Four takeaways as Hearts left it late to draw with Livingston at an agitated Tynecastle
Analysis from Tynecastle as Steven MacLean won Hearts a point late on
it wouldn’t be a surprise if the Hearts club shop started selling a branded rabbit’s foot, encouraging fans to snap them up for the princely sum of £9.99 to take to games. It may be the only thing left to try in a bid to put a stop to the injury hex which has plagued the club. Like that constant reminder to fill out your tax return, the issue once again reared it’s ugly but familiar head. It began in the warm-up with Aaron Hickey picking up a knock and being replaced by Jamie Brandon. Worse was to follow. Less than 30 minutes in and Steven Naismith had to be replaced by Steven MacLean. After coming off he gestured towards the back of his leg and indicated a worrying pulling motion. Behind the deal for Daniel Stendel falling through it is probably the last thing Hearts fans wanted to see. Going forward it raises the issue of being unable to field such a key player on such a long deal due to constant niggles and knocks.
The performance of Jamie Brandon was one of the few positives for Hearts on a night they required a late equaliser against Livingston at an agitated Tynecastle Park. He was drafted in late following Aaron Hickey’s withdrawal during the warm-up. The 21-year-old has his doubters in the support but in the last two games he has been one of the more consistent performers. His battling qualities were, for much of the match, few and far between. If anyone deserved the late Steven MacLean goal it was him. Despite playing out of position on the left he was still popping up far up on the right to win a free kick towards the end. When the going gets tough, as has been the case too often for Hearts, it requires a no-nonsense approach and combative qualities, players who are going to continue to dig in and not hide. Brandon did that on Wednesday night. There was slight surprise when he was awarded the man of the match award. Surprise which quickly turned to acknowledgement that, yes, he was the team’s best player.
When Loic Damour was replaced by Uche Ikpeazu in the 56th minute you could hear the appreciation among the Hearts support. It was a difficult evening for the Frenchman. There were a couple of moments which could easily have summed up his performance. The left-footed half volley which veered in direction of Saughton or the right-footed effort which was shanked way wide. But it was the misplaced pass in the attacking third, followed by a fan shouting ‘do your job Damour’. The issue being few knew what his job was on the right of the midfield three. He would often find himself drifting wider than Sean Clare who was actually wide right but then having no influence on proceedings. The 28-year-old arrived with pedigree and was awarded a long-term contract. He, like many of his team-mates, needs to show more. A lot more.
A group of fans seated in Section G of the Wheatfield unfurled a banner prior at kick-off regarding away ticket prices. It has been a feature of Scottish Premiership game this season. Celtic supporters have protested at Hibs and Hamilton, as well as at Celtic Park. St Mirren’s fans have also done so. They are complaining about the cost of away ticket prices. A twenty’s plenty ‘campaign’ has begun as travelling fans understandably demand more affordable tickets. It is a noble cause within Scottish football, but such is the dependency on revenue from tickets, especially big away supports like Hearts, it is something which is unlikely to change anytime soon.