Gary Mackay: Win at Kilmarnock essential for Hearts

Don Cowie led by example against Dundee
Don Cowie led by example against Dundee
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Ian Cathro had spoken of the importance of the three games over the last week, and I think the bare minimum that would have been acceptable for Hearts would have been three points from nine.

In that regard, Saturday’s victory over Dundee was very important. Had we failed to beat the most out-of-form side in the league, the mood of the supporters would have dipped significantly further.

But, with Don Cowie leading by example, we played pretty well in the first half and probably should have gone on and won a bit more comfortably. In the end, it got a bit nervy and they almost grabbed an equaliser but, in our current predicament, all that matters is we got a much-needed three points in the bag.

Moving forward, we need to turn three points from nine into a more respectable six points from 12 by winning at Kilmarnock because we need to generate some momentum going into our post-split fixtures. This weekend represents a really good chance for Hearts to make some progress in the league because, of the teams around us, we are the only ones playing a side in the bottom six. The fact we play on Friday night could be of benefit if we beat Kilmarnock and crank up the pressure on the teams directly above and beneath us. With St Johnstone at home to Aberdeen and Partick Thistle away to Rangers, there’s a decent chance for us to close on fourth place and move further away from sixth. After a terrible run of recent form, back-to-back wins would set us up nicely for the finale to the season. The game isn’t played on paper, of course, so it’s imperative that we step up and take care of our own business first and foremost.

The five games after the split are all going to be very difficult – with at least two trips to Glasgow likely to be on our fixture list – so, if we’re to have any chance of finishing the season on a high note, I can’t help but feel we’re going to have to win on Friday and then win any home games we have after the split. I honestly don’t care if we play with any style or not but, by hook or by crook, we need a sequence of victories over the next month to ensure we finish the season with some kind of momentum.