Hearts debrief: Jamie Walker's impact off the bench, the use of Liam Boyce, encouragement of Finlay Pollock
Hearts were able to end their Premier Sports Cup group-stage campaign with a fourth successive victory and clean sheet – but it wasn’t all smiles in Gorgie.
Robbie Neilson’s side fell short by a goal of being seeded for the next round, which then subsequently saw them draw Celtic at Parkhead.
Player of the match
Quite a few players in the starting XI – Gary Mackay-Steven, Alex Cochrane, Finlay Pollock, for example – played well without truly standing out. Therefore, the most deserving player was Jamie Walker. The midfielder came off the bench, fired Hearts in front and was very unlucky not to score with one of another three chances he had before being crunched in a poor challenge from Michael Gardyne which saw the Ross County midfielder sent off.
Any one of Mark Ridgers’ saves could be used to underline Hearts’ frustrations in front of goal for most of this game, though nothing could hammer home the lack of fortune in the penalty box than Armand Gnanduillet flicking a corner off the post, then seeing young Pollock react quickest to the rebound, only for him to crash his close-range finish off the exact same post in a couple of seconds later. Moments like this would ultimately prove to be the difference between Hearts being seeded for the next round and not.
Nick Walsh made a big decision early when he booked Josh Ginnelly for diving amid claims for a penalty. The reaction of the Hearts players would suggest he made the right call.
Benefit of hindsight
Was Liam Boyce in midfield or the switch to a 4-3-3 a couple of decisions that Robbie Neilson wishes he could have another go at? Boyce was fine but struggled to impact as much from the deeper role and was moved up alongside Gnanduillet with a system switch to a 4-4-2 in the second half.
Moment you may have missed
During the extended water break in the first half, former captain and now coach Steven Naismith spent the majority talking to Pollock about this duties in the centre of the park before giving him a hard, encouraging slap on the back. The 16-year-old impressed again getting forward to support the attack.