Craig Levein hopes Hearts have finally turned the corner after Tuesday night’s 2-0 win over Dundee at Tynecastle Park stretched their unbeaten run to five matches.
Esmael Goncalves and Christophe Berra scored the goals, but teenagers Lewis Moore, Harry Cochrane and Anthony McDonald all stood out in the victory.
McDonald, aged 16, was making his senior debut and assisted with both goals. Cochrane, also 16, came off the bench to replace the injured Arnaud Djoum, whilst 19-year-old Moore performed strongly on the left flank.
Levein will now prepare his team to face Celtic in Gorgie on Sunday with some welcome momentum behind them. Last night was their second victory inside four days following a run of six games without a win.
“I believe in these young players and the first-team players believe in them,” said the Hearts manager. “They’ve trained with the first team since the summer, so it’s not like they’ve been parachuted in from nowhere. The players trust them. They’ll give Harry and Anthony the ball in tight areas and they can deal with it.
“It was a good night for them but also for the rest of the team. We keep a clean sheet, Christophe and Isma get on the scoresheet and they’re feeling good. That’s more important to me than Anthony or Harry feeling good. We’ve had a tough couple of months and I’m hoping that’s us turned the corner.”
Berra’s 77th-minute strike secured the three points after Goncalves struck on the half-hour mark. “I didn’t feel comfortable until the last ten minutes,” admitted Levein.
“The game was still in the balance until we got the second goal and Dundee looked dangerous on occasions. The confidence we gained from winning on Saturday was apparent. We had some moments of really good football and I’m hoping what happened tonight will help us against Celtic.”
Levein praised the maturity of McDonald and Cochrane, adding: “With Jamie Walker being out, we don’t have another player like him. Anthony has stood out at his age group, as has Harry Cochrane. I’m surprised they’re involved at this young age, but they’re just good players and I think you saw that.”
The Dundee manager Neil McCann left Tynecastle furious at his team’s below-par display. They rarely threatened but for a brief spell of pressure early in the second half.
“We had a wee spell where we looked dangerous at the start of the second half but that didn’t cheer me up any. That was a shocking performance. Absolutely shocking. I didn’t see it coming,” said McCann,
“It won’t be accepted because everything at this club is geared to winning. Everything we do in training has a purpose, an end point, where it becomes about standards. Tonight’s performance was a joke.
“Anything in the second half would have been an improvement on the first but I’m not accepting it. When you set standards, you should stick to them. If you fall below them, something like that can creep in and I’m not accepting it.”