Gary Mackay: Hearts’ away struggles becoming real concern

Hearts skipper Christophe Berra clashes with Rangers' Daniel Candeias
Hearts skipper Christophe Berra clashes with Rangers' Daniel Candeias
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Yesterday’s match was very similar to our previous trip to Ibrox as Hearts looked intent on sitting deep, allowing Rangers possession and trying to frustrate them instead of trying to get at them and capitalise on any edginess in their ranks after how easily they were dismantled by Celtic last week.

This time we at least made it to half-time without conceding but I’d like to think we’d be capable of a bit more as an attacking force if we tried to take the game to them. In the end, it simply became a typically grim Hearts away performance.

It is a perplexing and concerning situation because we look a totally different team away from home compared to at home. We have made Tynecastle a fortress this season and showed how good we can be in our most recent match against Aberdeen, but we just seem unable to take control of games away from home. When we’re picking up so few points away, you have to worry about how things would look if we were to take even a slight dip in our home form. It may have made a difference if David Milinkovic had been fit because he brings a different type of threat, pace and creativity to our attack. Without him, we had nobody able to get at Rangers and drive the team forward.

Hopefully, we are able to be slightly more aggressive and adventurous when we head to Pittodrie to face Aberdeen on Friday. We have already shown this season that we are more than a match for Aberdeen on our day and we obviously took them apart at Tynecastle recently with a high-intensity performance, but the challenge now is to try and find a way of replicating that away from our home ground. I think much depends on whether we go there with the mindset of wanting to win the match or whether we are content just to try and grind out a point.

In terms of recruitment, it’s been pretty clear to anyone watching Hearts this season that the middle-to-front area of the squad is most in need of improvement. With that in mind, it is encouraging to see that our first two signings are strikers in Steven MacLean and Uche Ikpeazu. They will obviously bring different qualities and hopefully they’ll both be able to enhance the overal quality of the squad as next season unfolds.