Gary Mackay: Souttar showed he can handle physical test

Saturday's game was probably the right one for Hearts in terms of having a decent crowd and a decent atmosphere to keep them focused and roused after a demoralising couple of games.

Monday, 15th August 2016, 5:30 am
Updated Monday, 15th August 2016, 10:33 am
John Souttar produced a solid display for Hearts at Pittodrie
John Souttar produced a solid display for Hearts at Pittodrie

Aberdeen, for all that they finished above Hearts last season, appear to have tried to follow our lead in adding some extra physicality, with Jayden Stockley and Anthony O’Connor clearly beefing up their team. I think that would have been a big factor in why it was such a fiercely-contested match, with several bookings.

Young John Souttar merits a special mention for standing up to the challenge so well. He was always there making vital blocks and interceptions, but that doesn’t happen by accident – it’s down to anticipation. He had a tough night at St Johnstone, so he deserves credit for bouncing back with such an assured performance.

It was a big point for Hearts because if we had lost and been sitting on no points, there would have been a lot of negativity and tension going into the Inverness this weekend. That draw must act as the catalyst for our season, otherwise it will count for little.

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After pretty much matching Celtic and Aberdeen over 180 minutes, we now need to start picking up points and generating some momentum.

If we can go on a winning run, then the early-season defeats should soon be forgotten. Much will depend on our ability to click in front of goal. We’ve shown signs of promise as an attacking force, but we’ve only scored one goal from open play in our first three domestic games, so there is room for improvement in that regard.

I think, overall, the supporters are still waiting to be excited by the team. They’ve had really hard games so far, so hopefully that will change from Saturday onwards.

I’d like to see us go and put on a bit of a show for the fans who have shown continued support even through a slightly underwhelming run of games towards the end of last season.

With the players we have, there is no reason we shouldn’t be looking to dictate things and play the way we want against Inverness. Victory with a wee bit of swagger would have us on the right path.