Three things we learned from East Fife 1-1 Hearts (East Fife win on pens)

Analysis from Bayview Stadium as Hearts secured passage into the knockout stages of the Betfred Cup.

Saturday, 27th July 2019, 5:05 pm
Uche Ikpeazu in action for Hearts. Picture: SNS

Naismith and Haring make Hearts beat

Let's not beat about the bush, Hearts are a bang average team - at best - without Steven Naismith and Peter Haring. This is nothing new and East Fife soon realised it once they went ahead. A selection of players have had four games to show their worth and stake a claim for a place in the team. Oliver Bozanic, Andy Irving, Sean Clare, Conor Washington, Uche Ikpeazu, Aidan Keena, Steven MacLean, Dario Zanatta and Jamie Walker. Not one of those named has shown they are deserving of being one of the first names on the team sheet. Against East Fife, Walker was played centrally and scored his first goal for the club in 602 days. Yet, the way the team played he rarely saw the ball meaning he was ineffective. It didn't change when he moved wide. Both Dario Zanatta and Andy Irving were given a start but were the first players subbed.

Man of steel

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Uche Ikpeazu in action for Hearts. Picture: SNS

Craig Halkett. Is there anything he can't do? Following his brace in the win over Stenhousemuir on Wednesday, he was at it again. This time, with around 15 minutes on the clock, the defender thundered into a challenge on the right-hand touchline. As a centre-back, he didn't decide to ship the ball onto a midfielder or forward with a simple, safe pass. He motored on, down the wing and sent an enticing ball into the centre for Jamie Walker to net easily. Fans may be wondering whether they actually signed a defender. He showed those qualities throughout with a tenacity and determination, displaying his recovery pace, strength and positioning when crosses entered the box. Still, worryingly, he has been the club's most effective attacker.

From fans' favourite to figure of frustration

Twelve months ago Uche Ikpeazu had won the the hearts of the Hearts support. His name was already being sung by the fans who took to his all-action, powerful, unnerving style. It is at contrast to the current day. After a promising start to the game in Methil, his performance became increasingly frustrated, and those in the away end became increasingly weary. His touch was erratic, he bundled down blind alleys head down, didn't hold the ball sufficiently and fouled needlessly. It could be put down as one of those days at the office but this wasn't a one-off. On Wednesday he squandered a couple of chances with excessively wayward finishing. From being a player who was so important at the start of the last campaign he is now not anywhere near assured of a starting berth.