Hearts debrief: Simms and Boyce dilemma; square peg Moore; Adam's escape

A look back at Hearts’ 2-1 cinch Premiership defeat by Dundee at Tynecastle Park.

Thursday, 10th February 2022, 7:00 am
Updated Thursday, 10th February 2022, 1:05 pm

Player of the match

John Souttar was the best of a bad bunch at the back. Beni Baningime and Barrie McKay combined very effectively to cause Dundee problems in the first half but faded in the second. So Ellis Simms just gets the award for his goal, strength and direct running in behind. The on-loan Everton striker was a threat.

Defining moment

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Liam Boyce, playing on the left side of the Hearts front three, fights off Dundee's Liam Fontaine

The flukey Dundee equaliser. Hearts should have been more than one up at half time, but when a low cross struck Toby Sibbick on shoulder and went in off the underside of the bar for Dundee’s equaliser just six minutes into the second half the game completely changed. Hearts lost control and never really got it back.

Ref watch

Colin Steven booked three Dundee players, including Charlie Adam for dissent. He could perhaps have seen red after a late challenge on Barrie McKay. Liam Boyce, for one was not impressed.

Tactical observations

Dundee's Charlie Adam receives a yellow card for dissent

Robbie Neilson understandably wants to play both Liam Boyce and Simms in attack, but his 3-4-3 formation is based around one central striker. That meant Boyce was moved out to the left, but it isn’t a role which plays to his strengths. Hearts are used to playing with two support forwards who have more fluid positional roles out wide and in the hole between the opposition defence and midfield. That role doesn’t suit Boyce. If the Irishman and Simms are to play together, they’d operate better as twin strikers through the middle, but that would mean tweaking the way Hearts set up in attack. Neilson has some thinking to do.

Benefit of hindsight

Taylor Moore looks like a square peg in a round hole every time he’s deployed at right midfield, but with Michael Smith and Nathaniel Atkinson both injured the young English defender was moved into that role again. He’s the third-choice option for that position but perhaps, when playing at home to the team bottom of the league, a more attacking alternative, like Josh Ginnelly, would have been worth the gamble.

Moment you may have missed

Ellis Simms scores for Hearts to make it 1-0 during after 21 minutes

Gary McKay-Steven’s introduction as a sub in the 80th minute was Neilson’s final throw of the dice. The winger wasn’t able to make an impact, however, and his most notable contribution was a foul he had to make in frustration after being nutmegged on the halfway line. It rather summed up a frustrating night for Hearts.

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