Hearts debrief: Ginnelly stakes claim; English back 3; Gordon's quick thinking

A look back at Hearts’ 3-2 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice, stretching their unbeaten run to nine matches.

Monday, 25th April 2022, 2:56 pm

PLAYER OF THE MATCH

A toss up between Josh Ginnelly, Barrie McKay and Peter Haring, but the English forward edges it just because he came into the team from the cold. Ginnelly has had to be patient in recent weeks, but his eagerness to impress when handed a starting place was clear. He scored one and could easily have had a hat-trick, getting himself into good scoring positions and hitting the target each time. His direct running and willingness to take defenders on gave United problems and his performance underlined the strength in depth Hearts have in attack.

TACTICAL OBSERVATIONS

Hearts fans must have been fearing the worst when Dundee United came flying out of the traps and took the lead after three minutes. With Craig Halkett and Stephen Kingsley joining John Souttar on the injury table, the experienced Scottish trio had to be replaced by the largely inexperienced English trio in Taylor Moore, Toby Sibbick and Alex Cochrane. It stirred memories of the 5-0 defeat at Ibrox in February when Hearts were similarly handicapped in defence. To their credit the trio steadied themselves and defended well. Sibbick is far more comfortable in the middle of the three than he is on the right.

MOMENT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED

Craig Gordon’s heart must have been in his mouth early in the second half when he almost stumbled out of his box with the ball still in his hands. Attempting to quickly step forward and throw the ball to Liam Boyce to set Hearts away on a swift counter attack, the Scotland No1 had bodies in the way and appeared to lose his footing but fortunately had the presence of mid to swivel at the last minute and fall to the ground with ball in hand just before momentum carried him over the line.

BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT

Josh Ginnelly hits the post on this occasion and could easily have had a hat-rick at Tannadice

If he could go back in time, Robbie Neilson wouldn’t do anything differently to set up for this match. There’s not that much he could do differently given the lengthy injury list he is now contending with. The fringe players who came in will benefit from minutes in their legs and with a cup final against Rangers on the horizon there are places to play for. Nine games unbeaten, Hearts are in a very good place and confidence is surging through the whole squad.

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.