ALTHOUGH mindful of the support Hearts fans have given their club in recent months, manager Gary Locke today appealed to Tynecastle regulars to stay behind his team during games.
Restlessness was evident in the stands for the first time this season during Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Ross County and Locke is keen to see everyone encourage his young players.
Misplaced passes led to fans’ frustration after Callum Tapping’s backpass gifted Graham Carey the opening goal. However, Hearts showed commendable resolve to twice recover from being a goal behind and take a point. Callum Paterson’s late header against the crossbar could easily have ensured a victory.
Locke praised supporters for their commitment during Hearts’ recent financial troubles, with a healthy crowd of 12,508 in attendance at the weekend. He has asked those who do turn up to stay positive given that most of those in maroon shirts are youth academy pupils still learning their trade.
“Every player was absolutely shattered after the game in the dressing-room. As a manager, that’s all you can ask,” Locke told the Evening News. “They got a wee bit frustrated when one or two passes went astray but you’re going to get that. It’s important everybody sticks behind them because they’re young and they’re making wee mistakes, but I thought they showed tremendous character in the second half. I thought we should have got three points.
“It’s difficult enough at Tynecastle as an experienced player when you get a wee bit of stick from the supporters. The fans have been absolutely out of this world, there’s no doubt about that, but it’s important they keep encouraging the players. I get frustrated as well when you see them making some of the errors they make. They’re young players and they’ll certainly do a lot better if they get encouraged. That’s what we try and do all the time.
“I thought we thoroughly deserved three points. We battered Ross County for long spells in the second half. We put a lot of good balls into the box but we had to be patient because they got everybody behind the ball and it isn’t easy to break teams down.”
Locke said he was keen to move on from Tapping’s error after the player took responsibility for it at half-time. “He just needs to keep his head up because he’s done well this season,” continued the manager. “He doesn’t need me to tell him it was a bad mistake for the first goal. He held his hands up at half-time. It’s important we try and eradicate those mistakes because that’s the type of thing that’s killing us at the moment. Teams aren’t having to work too hard to score and we’re giving ourselves a mountain to climb.”