Alex Cochrane sets two Hearts objectives as he names the key ingredient fuelling relentless winning run

The Hearts star has talked up the consistency and winning run Steven Naismith's side are currently enjoying.
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They don't know how to lose and their talisman isn't sure how to miss - and Alex Cochrane insists silverware plus third place are firmly on the Hearts agenda.

The left-back created an assist for Lawrence Shankland during Sunday's 4-1 Scottish Cup round of 16 win over Airdrie. Shankland grabbed another in the second half while Kenneth Vargas and Calem Nieuwenhof also found themselves on the scoresheet in North Lanarkshire.

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It's a result that makes it 10 wins out of 11 for the Tynecastle side across all competitions, a run stretching back to December 16th. They now travel to Morton next month in the quarter-final with a return to Hampden on the line after reaching the Viaplay Cup's last four, adding to the feel-good factor in Gorgie.

Hearts sit 12 points clear of fourth-placed Kilmarnock and look destined to finish third this season. For Cochrane, he is adamant that being constant in their performance is the key element that is ensuring Steven Naismith's side can dig results out on good and bad days.

"Consistency," he told the Edinburgh Evening News. "That's it. Going into every game and expecting a certain level from everyone.

"We know we have players to hurt everyone in the league and if we are on it on our day, we can get the wins and even if we are off it, we can dig together as a team.

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"I think that is something we have learned. I think we have found a good rhythm and we know how we all play."

The match brought the 23rd and 24th goals of an outstanding season for striker Shankland. His performances are not taken for granted by Cochrane, who believes Hearts handled a difficult cup tie with Airdrie in a professional manner.

"If you put the ball on the plate for him or even just give him the ball, he will work his magic," Cochrane insisted. "He's the best finisher in the league and he deserves all the credit he gets.

"We knew they would be up for the game. We had to go about it in a professional manner and I think we did.

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"I think in the first half there were still some sloppy moments but the second half was better and we saw the game out.

"We knew before the game the space would be out wide as they play the diamond shape. We knew we had to exploit that. They had some good play and it was a tough game."

Up next for Hearts is a return to Premiership action at home to Motherwell. That kickstarts an important run of games between now and the quarter-final tie, in which they face the Steelmen, Rangers, Hibs and Celtic.

The goal is clear for Cochrane. Third place is a must and putting maroon ribbons on the Scottish Cup come May wouldn't go amiss either.

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"There's still a lot to play for this season," added the left-back. "We want to get to the cup final and win a trophy, secure third position as well.

"There are plenty of games out there. We are in a good place at the moment and we just have to keep going."