Hearts debrief: Ross Stewart proving critics wrong; Peter Haring's tackle; Game of two halves; And red card verdict
and live on Freeview channel 276
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
A toss up between Ross Stewart and Kye Rowles, but let’s give it to the much-maligned back-up goalkeeper given his lack of match practice and experience. Coming in to play at Celtic Park in only his fourth start was never going to be easy and there were a couple of sticky moments with this ball at his feet early on. But the 26-year-old grew in confidence after dealing competently with a couple of high balls and made two very good saves in the second half to deny Matt O’Riley and Giorgos Giakoumakis.
Josh Ginnelly had a decent game in attack, but his decision-making and execution let him down in the 29th minute when he got on the end of a very slick move to race through on the inside right channel. Joe Hart came rushing out and Ginnelly rushed his shot, dragging it wide from well outside the box when he could have dinked it over the keeper or taken another touch forward. It was Hearts’ best chance and you don’t get many at Celtic Park. Although Ginnelly played well, it was a lack of composure and quality when it really mattered.
YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
Captain for the day, Peter Haring is a big player for Hearts and put in another decent shift in the middle of the park. There are those who feel his mobility is a problem, particularly on a big pitch like Celtic Park, but he showed plenty of mobility to race back and cover his defenders as Greg Taylor broke through down Celtic’s inside left channel in the 35th minute. Haring timed his challenge to perfection, hooking the ball away from the Celtic full-back as he prepared to pull the trigger.
BENEFIT OF HINDSIGHT
Robbie Neilson won’t regret the team selection, with several key men given a rest ahead of the Zurich tie on Thursday and many squad players coming in and giving a decent account of themselves. Hearts sat deep and were on the back foot throughout the first half, but were much, much better in the second half when Neilson shoved his team up the pitch and put Celtic under pressure in their own half. Perhaps a higher press earlier in the much would have asked more questions of Celtic.
Kevin Clancy dished out cards to Hearts players like confetti – seven yellows altogether for 12 fouls, two of them resulting in reds. When given 50-50 calls on whether or not to show Alex Cochrane and Toby Sibbick a second caution, he chose the hard-nosed option that ended any prospect of Hearts nicking a point. Cochrane and Sibbick can’t have any complaints about their first booking. But the second yellows for Cochrane’s trip on Reo Hatate on the touchline and Sibbick’s innocuous foul on Liel Abada as cut across him in the centre circle were harsh. Hearts were, however, fortunate to have Kyogo flagged for offside when right through after 10 minutes and clearly played on by Cochrane.