Ian Cathro is demanding Hearts fight back from last night’s shock Betfred Cup defeat at League Two Peterhead by securing their place in the last 16.
The Tynecastle head coach knows his players must beat Dunfermline on Saturday to reach the competition’s knockout phase and implored them to show the correct reaction.
Rory McAllister’s 89th-minute penalty ensured a famous Peterhead victory over their Premiership opponents at Balmoor. Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty had equalised Jason Brown’s headed opener but the Edinburgh club failed to kill off their part-time hosts in the second half.
McAllister’s winner handed Cathro his first defeat of the new season in somewhat embarrassing circumstances against a club from Scotland’s fourth tier. Peterhead are now level with Hearts on six points in Betfred Cup Group B, which is led by Dunfermline on eight points.
“There needs to be a very strong reaction at the start of the game on Saturday,” he told the Evening News. “I think everybody feels that already. It has to be the case. I expect there to be a strong performance from a team that is ready come the start of the game.
“This is a reminder that, you can be playing well and think you’re on top, but unless you control the scoreline then you aren’t in control of anything.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves and manage our own frustrations better. There were a lot of frustrations. The referee stopped the game a lot but these games are often about how you manage yourself. That’s one message.”
Asked if he was prepared for criticism of his reign to increase following last night’s loss, Cathro replied: “I’m not going to stop it. So let it be.”
“We’re disappointed and we expect to do better,” he continued. “We didn’t start the game well, that allowed Peterhead to be motivated and to keep fighting and pushing.
“We got ourselves on top and then we need to make better decisions to make sure we can take the opportunities when they’re there and be more efficient in the final third.
“We wanted to win the game to go top of the group and we’ve not done that. We have a number of new players in the team and new relationships are building. Being ready for Saturday is the priority first, then we have a little bit more time before we go into league competition. To progress in this competition, we need to go and win at the weekend. That’s the reality of the situation.”
Peterhead manager Jim McInally was delighted to see his team gain some credit after a heavy defeat in the Betfred Cup at the weekend. “I wanted our players to do themselves and the supporters proud,” he stated.
“We lost 5-1 on Saturday and we were ripped apart at times by some fantastic play. I wanted the players to go out and show that they could play. To win is a massive bonus.
“I did say at half-time that I’d seen enough in the first half that I thought we could win. We tired badly with ten minutes to go, which is to be expected. You think you’ve maybe lost your chance.
“There was some terrific play down the left, Rory cuts it back and Jordon [Brown] is in the box to get the penalty. Then you remember after we won that we have a chance of going through if we can beat Elgin.
“Everybody has written us off and you get annoyed because you don’t get respected at our level. Even the Hearts manager didn’t mention Peterhead, or that we could cause them any problems. I said to the players: ‘Let’s try to go away from here with people talking about you. Let them know they’ve been in a game.’
“Now they know they’ve been in a game.