Hearts debrief: The two players with pass marks, team selection quandary, baffling Ellis Simms booking
Player of the match
Slim pickings, but there are two players who stood out as being better than the other poor performers in maroon. Barrie McKay was typically menacing. He was unlucky not to see up Gary Mackay-Steven for a tap-in in the first half as Jon McLaughlin sprinted from his line to deny the winger, while he almost executed a terrific through ball for himself in the same period. He had three decent chances in the second period and just had his final ball lacking on this occasion. But the best Hearts player was Peter Haring. He was about the only player who approached his usual level of performance with his composure and ball-winning abilities in the centre, and he scored a good goal to boot.
McKay’s two chances around the 60-minute mark probably would have swung the game back in Hearts’ favour as it would’ve asked questions of the mental fortitude of a really young Rangers team as the Ibrox side had began introducing a lot of teenagers from the substitutes’ bench. But those chances weren’t taken and the away team soon threatened again on the counter, finding their third goal and killing the game.
There wasn’t much to say about Kevin Clancy’s performance other than a baffling decision to book Ellis Simms in the first half for an innocuous coming together in the first half.
Benefit of hindsight
Should Haring and Liam Boyce have started? On the one hand, they wouldn’t wanted to play and the manager was looking for both cohesion and to keep intensity levels up prior to the cup final. On the other hand, both players have suffered with big injuries during their career and have played a lot of football between them since the semi-final. It’s a difficult one and there’s no right answer. Boyce felt tightness in his groin and will be assessed over the coming days, but Haring should be fine for the final after suffering a knock on his knee.