Exclusive: Alex Lowry explains the 'unreal' Hearts feeling after forgetting his big moment at Rangers
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When Steven Naismith relentlessly championed the case for bringing Alex Lowry to Hearts, it was with moments like Tuesday night in mind. Those few seconds of class in the Rugby Park rain brightened a dreich evening more than any ray of sunshine: A touch with the left foot, a dragback with the right, then a lethal finish into the bottom corner. The sight of Kilmarnock defender Stuart Findlay punching the ground in anger as Lowry sprinted off to celebrate simply underlined the significance of that 92nd-minute winning goal in the Viaplay Cup quarter-final.
Quite obviously, it was the most important strike of Lowry’s burgeoning career to date. There have been only two others, one of which he has no recollection. The loan deal which took him from Rangers to Hearts for the season was designed to unleash his true potential. Naismith knows what the mercurial 20-year-old can offer and worked tirelessly to bring him to Edinburgh. Tuesday probably justified the endeavour alone as Lowry struck just seconds after being instructed to go on as substitute and win the game.
The player himself was elated and full of adrenaline after the 2-1 victory sent Hearts to Hampden Park for November’s semi-finals. Coincidently, they have been drawn against Rangers, which instantly rules Lowry out as loan rules prevent players facing their parent club. If that is a disappointment, the fact his goal earned the last-four place is a decent consolation.
“It’s definitely my most important goal so far. I’ve only scored three goals in my short career so hopefully I can start adding more to my game,” said Lowry in an exclusive Evening News interview. “That feeling was unreal. It was just different. I couldn’t remember my first goal for Rangers [against Stirling Albion in the Scottish Cup in January 2022]. It was just a blur. The one on Tuesday I could remember every moment.
“Running away to celebrate with the fans and then the boys bigging me up was just an unreal feeling. The night was really good and I’m just pleased to get into the semi-finals and delighted to finally score. It had been 10 games for Hearts and I was starting to get worried but the goal came at a good time.
“Naisy and Gordy [Forrest] just said to me: ‘Go and win us the game.’ Thankfully, I did that. It was weird. I thought Boycie had taken the ball too far but then he had the composure to find me. I checked as the ball came to me and thought: ‘I’ve got a lot of space here.’ I rolled it with the sole of my foot and then saw the bottom corner eyeing me up, so I had to put it there. Thankfully, it went in.
“Kilmarnock had put a lot of pressure on us during the second half. The boys dealt with it pretty well. I think everyone felt the game was going to extra-time but then, thankfully, I was in the right position to finish it before then.”
Lowry’s composure followed by a ruthless finish helped him repay some of Naismith’s faith. Michael Beale, the Rangers manager, agreed to let the midfielder leave Ibrox and has watched him closely since the season began. Lowry is now craving more of an input at Tynecastle as he looks to settle into a proper rhythm and earn more acclaim from supporters
“I just need to be scoring, assisting and helping the team defensively. I have to do my bit and hopefully I can repay the faith Naisy has put in me with good performances this season. I just want to kick on from this. I want to start putting in good performances week in and week out. I felt I was a bit inconsistent since the start of the season but I want to push on now to show the Hearts fans and my team-mates what I can do.”
Securing a regular starting place has been a challenge so far, not only for Lowry but several others in the Riccarton first-team squad. Results prior to Tuesday showed only one win in the previous six games and Hearts as a team are still gelling all their new players together. “Yeah, that’s just how it’s been. We all need to come together as a collective and start performing,” admitted Lowry. “Let’s hope Tuesday is a turning point.
“We all went through a sticky patch so hopefully that cup tie, with the buzz we got from it and getting to Hampden, we can take that into the next few games and start building momentum. We want to try and finish this block of games as well as we can. Then we go into the international break and we will come back fighting and ready to go again.”
The next assignment is in the Highlands. Saturday’s trip to Dingwall gives Hearts a chance to get their Premiership campaign back on track if they can carry the midweek cup euphoria north with them. Lowry is in contention to play from the start following that late cameo at Rugby Park, as is the man who assisted his goal, Liam Boyce.
“A last-minute winner is always going to give the fans, the players and everyone involved with the club that kind of buzz that we were lacking for a bit. Now we just need to focus on Ross County come Saturday, hopefully put in another good performance and get three points,” said Lowry.