Hearts debrief: Halkett covering two jobs, another change in system, being 'bullied' by Arbroath

A look back at Hearts’ disappointing 0-0 draw with Arbroath.

Sunday, 21st March 2021, 8:00 am
Hearts sub Gervane Kastaneer shoots for goal. Picture: SNS

Player of the match

There were only two contenders for this. Armand Gnanduillet was undoubtedly the most threatening player in attack. His aerial ability and link-up play, in the final 20 or so minutes in particular, caused Arbroath’s defence the kind of problems that none of his fellow forwards could replicate. He did, however, miss a couple of good chances, so we’ll instead go for Craig Halkett. His centre-back partner, Mihai Popescu, was a liability all game, which meant Halkett not only had to do his work but also cover for his out-of-sorts team-mate. He did both jobs well.

Defining moment

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A true defining moment could be any time Hearts’ midfield easily conceded possession easily in the centre, or the defence bypassed them altogether with a lump up the field that led to nothing. However, summing up the anaemic performance was probably the moment Gervane Kastaneer, just on as sub, fired a shot across goal that went straight into the path of Liam Boyce. The top goalscorer looked sure to knock it home, but instead killed the ball stone dead, meaning he needed to attempt a back-flick to finish, which made it easier to clear.

Ref watch

Euan Robertson made a big call in the opening two minutes when he denied Arbroath a penalty after a touch from Halkett saw the ball bounce up off his hand. Under the rules was it a penalty? It did look so. But considering you need a degree in quantum physics to fully understand the handball rule these days we can maybe give the whistler the benefit of the doubt.

Benefit of hindsight

Starting Gary Mackay-Steven over Jamie Walker may be an obvious pick, but there were flaws in the 4-4-2 diamond other than the underwhelming January signing. Starting in a flat 4-4-2, matching up with Arbroath, may have been a better option. The same goes for bringing either of Kastaneer (who was lively) or Walker on at half-time when switching to that system instead of Aidy White.

Moment you may have missed

Robbie Neilson telling his players they were being bullied after Livingston loanee Carlo Pignatiello was allowed to advance the ball from the touchline to the edge of the box before attempting a shot.

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