Hearts debrief: Barrie McKay's threat, several missed chances, need for another forward
A look back at Sunday’s match at Easter Road as Martin Boyle’s late goal denied Hearts.
Player of the match
Craig Halkett had a really strong game in defence, Kye Rowles similarly impressed and Peter Haring won almost every 50-50 battle he entered. The Austrian, also impressive on the ball with incongruous composure in frenzied surroundings, just loses out to the most impressive Hearts attacker on the day: Barrie McKay. The playmaker was a threat every time he picked up the ball and played the pass from which Lawrence Shankland opened the scoring.
The only real black mark against McKay was his failure to finish off a great double-chance for Hearts shortly into the second period. The visitors created a good few second-half chances to kill the game off but failed to take them. Credit should go to David Marshall, however, who made a reaction stop to deny Shankland a second and then made himself big to frustrate McKay. But having controlled the ball flawlessly while advancing on goal, the winger should have given the keeper no chance.
There was nothing really from a Hearts perspective that could be seen as contentious. It even appeared Shankland may have got away with controlling the ball with his arm in the build up to his goal. John Beaton was content to let the game be played with a physical edge.
Benefit of hindsight
Hard to be too critical of the Hearts management. The switch in formation to a 4-4-2 worked with Hearts the better side for the majority of the match. The chances were there to kill things off. It did, however, show the need for Hearts to recruit another attacker. Neither Gary Mackay-Steven and Josh Ginnelly were trusted to come on and help see things out, as the lack of another forward once Liam Boyce was withdrawn removed the away the ability to make the ball stick. The move back to the 3-4-3 could also be queried, but until the last couple of minutes of injury-time they remained comfortable.
Moment you may have missed
Shankland was seconds away from being the hero and a match-winner on his Edinburgh derby debut. The striker was on his knees in dejection as Martin Boyle raced away to celebrate the late equaliser.