A frustrated Craig Levein bemoaned a penalty miss by striker Kyle Lafferty in the final minute of the 1-1 draw with Kilmarnock.
The Tynecastle manager refused to lambast his top goalscorer but admitted the shot saved by the visiting goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald was tame and lacked conviction.
Kilmarnock scored early through striker Eamonn Brophy but Steven Naismith’s first Hearts goal levelled the scoreline before the break. Lafferty was impeded inside the box in the last minute but MacDonald dived low to his left to hold the Northern Irishman’s spot-kick.
“In any game, you’d be settling for a penalty in the last minute to win it. Unfortunately it just didn’t go our way. Kyle’s penalty kind of summed up his performance,” said Levein.
“He did some good things, but I thought he was off it a bit. He’s been really good for us but he wasn’t at his best. His penalty attempt was quite sloppy and hit with hope rather than any real determination.
“I can’t be too critical as he’s our top scorer and has bailed us out on many occasions. Even if you forget about his penalty, it was far from his best performance.
“I’ve never believed you’re 100 per cent guaranteed to score a penalty. It’s not just down to the penalty taker is it? I’m talking through frustration. To not win it with a penalty in last minute is frustrating.”
Levein offered more positive news on full-back Demetri Mitchell, who was substituted with knee pain on 81 minutes. “He got a knock on his knee at Ross County and there is nothing from the scan, it’s fine,” explained Levein.
“He had some discomfort and it was worsening as the game wore on. He mentioned it at half time but he’s fine.”
Naismith also seems to have overcome a hamstring complaint which recently sidelined him. The Scotland forward will be a key player for Hearts until he returns to parent club Norwich City in May.
“Steven has had that hamstring problem. He wasn’t playing a lot at Norwich,” said Levein. “He had to get back up to speed and that looks like him set for the remainder of the season. He said he felt good and I was pleased with him. He grew into the game and that will help his confidence.”
The Kilmarnock manager Steve Clarke acclaimed MacDonald for a fine penalty save at the home of his former employers. His stop guaranteed the Ayrshire side a point and maintained a fine run of form which sees them with only one defeat in their last 14 games.
“You always think a last-minute penalty is going to go against you but Jamie produced a really good save,” said Clarke. “I think we deserved a point, nobody could begrudge us a point.
“We almost nicked it ourselves with a great header from Jordan Jones. Jon McLaughlin made another outstanding save, he’s made a habit of that this year. I’m pleased to get the point, it would have been a sore one if we had conceded from the penalty.”