Conor Washington reveals why he knew he'd score for Hearts against Hibs

Aaron Hickey and Conor Washington celebrate after the striker's goal in Hearts' 3-1 win against HibsAaron Hickey and Conor Washington celebrate after the striker's goal in Hearts' 3-1 win against Hibs
Aaron Hickey and Conor Washington celebrate after the striker's goal in Hearts' 3-1 win against Hibs | Other 3rd Party
Striker explains thought process behind emphatic Easter Road finish

Galloping down the wing yards from Easter Road’s East Stand, Conor Washington was the epitome of calmness. He knew he was scoring Hearts’ third goal from the second Aaron Hickey delivered a measured forward pass up the flank.

Washington collected the teenager’s ball at an angle and sped off for the penalty box, teed up a right-footed shot as Paul Hanlon closed in, then dispatched an explosive finish beyond Ofir Marciano into the net. His finest moment in maroon to date was complete.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He wheeled away in celebration like a striker who was always thoroughly convinced his expected outcome would materialise. Hearts were 3-0 ahead and running riot in the backyard of their greatest rivals late on Tuesday night. It might have been his first Edinburgh derby goal, but Washington has been through the ritual countless times before.

“It’s a goal I’ve scored so many times in my career, even as a youth player: Running in behind, cutting inside and finishing in the far corner,” he said, speaking exclusively to the Evening News. “It’s a nice chance to get because of how many times I’ve found myself in that situation.

“I was just relieved to see it hit the back of the net. The way the game was at that point, with us 2-0 up, it was nice to see them off and make it a little bit more comfortable for us.”

Support was minimal as he entered the Hibs penalty area due to the speed of Hearts’ counter-attack. There was no chance of Washington passing anyway. He had only one thing on his mind.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Scoring was my only thought because there was one earlier where I got played down the line [on the other side] and the keeper has half come out. I should have committed to it but there was that little hesitation. That’s why I haven’t scored as many goals as I probably should have since I came back from injury. The chances are there and it was nice seeing one hit the net.”

It was reward for his endeavour and industry as a forward who specialises in work rate. Washington’s endless running and chasing has not gone unnoticed despite Tuesday’s goal being only his third of an injury-interrupted campaign.

Hearts need those commodities more than ever in their quest to avoid relegation from the Ladbrokes Premiership. The 3-1 win in Leith might prove colossal in that regard.

For a Hearts player, no goal will be celebrated more wildly than against Hibs at Easter Road. Particularly when you happen to be fighting the drop. “The magnitude of the game was massive. We couldn’t afford to lose, simple as that. It’s the same on Saturday against Motherwell,” said Washington.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“It was nice to give the fans something to cheer. The derby is massive for them and for us. The celebrations were just pure elation, to be honest. It was great to get in the crowd and see all the faces and the dressing room was brilliant at the end.”

After beating Rangers in the Scottish Cup and Hibs in the league, there is a chance to build momentum. Washington is aware there will not be many more with only ten league games remaining.

“We have a good set of lads and a lot of quality but we just haven’t had enough of these performances,” he lamented. “We need to build on the atmosphere we have created in the last two games. We have had a few false dawns so far this season but there’s no other option for us now. This has to be it. We have to go on a winning run.

“The manager really hammered the point across that we beat Rangers a few weeks ago [in the league] and didn’t string a few performances together afterwards. He told us to celebrate on the night of the Rangers cup game but, as soon as we got back to training, we would be thinking about Hibs.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“We need to have exactly the same attitude. There is no time for celebrations. We’re still very close to the bottom of the table so we need to make sure we take this into Saturday. We need the exact same performance levels.

“The most important thing was going away to Hibs and winning. It was a good performance from the team and something to build on. It’s something for me to build on as well. Hopefully I can go on a run, getting some goals and getting us out of this situation. First I need to keep my place in the team. That’s the beauty of having such quality in attack with everyone contributing.”

It is a point well made. Uche Ikpeazu, Hearts’ first-choice striker earlier in the campaign, did not even make the substitutes’ bench at Easter Road. “I’d like to think I give the team a different outlet to the other strikers. The manager can utilise that whenever he sees fit,” said Washington.

“It’s going to be a real team effort. Not too many teams have strike forces including Liam Boyce and Steven Naismith. You have to appreciate that you won’t always play but, when you do, you’ve got to give 100 per cent and try to score as many goals as possible.”

Related topics: