Hearts debrief: Three players stand out above others, Robbie Neilson's yellow, Liam Boyce's miss

A look back at Hearts’ 0-0 draw with Ross County at Tynecastle Park.

By Craig Fowler
Sunday, 1st May 2022, 7:00 am

Player of the match

Nobody had a great game but, for this writer, three players stood out. Peter Haring continued his excellent form with a typically robust and composed performance protecting the back four. Toby Sibbick was the best of the defence as he repelled pretty much everything which came his way and was calm in possession. And Barrie McKay, while not as involved as he may have liked, still showed his undoubted quality in flashes. Let’s go for the latter as POTM.

Defining moment

Sign up to our Hearts newsletter

The Hearts players and head coach Robbie Neilson applaud Scott Wilson off the pitch at full-time in his final match as stadium announcer at Tynecastle Park. Picture: SNS

Speaking of McKay, his ability was highlighted with just over 15 minutes remaining. After spinning away from a County defender and seeing the pitch open up for him, you just knew he was going to pick the right option and his pass would be perfectly weighted. That’s exactly what happened but Liam Boyce was unable to finish as the striker fluffed his lines with a poor shot into Ross Laidlaw’s feet. He then clipped another great chance wide in injury time.

Ref watch

Robbie Neilson was booked for his complaints about how referee Steven McLean was managing the game and allowing Ross County to get away with a number of challenges he felt merited fouls. Aside from that there wasn’t much the officials got involved in. County had an early goal disallowed but replays suggest Jordan White was a fraction offside.

Benefit of hindsight

Hearts changed formation into a 4-1-4-1 with Haring sitting and McKay getting forward from the central area to assist Boyce. The problem wasn’t so much the system, as Neilson looked to match up with County, but the use of the personnel. With Josh Ginnelly back on the right wing and Ellis Simms on the bench, there wasn’t really anyone to run the channels and pull the away defence into areas they didn’t want to be. Things improved after the break when Ginnelly went into the centre before Simms came on.

Moment you may have missed

The Ross County substitutes got a laugh from the home support when they accidentally went out to warm up at the wrong end. A hearty “whey!” rang out when they were told by the Hearts subs they needed to be at the other end of the ground.

Message from the editor

Thank you for reading this article. If you haven't already, please consider supporting our sports coverage with a digital sports subscription.