Three things we learned from Hearts 1 - 1 Rangers
Analysis from Tynecastle as Hearts fail to secure an elusive victory but still earn themselves a positive result with a fighting showing against Rangers.
Hearts played well across the entirety of this match with Rangers. Even in the periods where they struggled to make the ball stick in the opposing half or get support to Uche Ikpeazu, they were still defending resolutely and limiting Rangers in front of goal. However, it's also fair to say they weren't any better than they were in the opening 15 minutes. The hosts flew out of the traps and created three good chances before Ryo Meshino lifted the ball over Allan McGregor to give Hearts a 1-0 lead. They suffocated Rangers by chasing them everywhere, squeezing the life out of the game on the tight pitch, and moved the ball quickly in attack. It's a marker they've failed to lay down in the majority of games this season. If they'd shown similar intensity against the likes of Motherwell, Hamilton etc then they wouldn't be in 10th place in late October. Now it's time to right those wrongs in the games coming up.
Smith deserves the freedom of Gorgie
Once again Michael Smith was superb deputising at centre-back. What the full-back lacks in stature he makes up for in anticipation, discipline and determination; he always seemed to be in the right place, he never did anything foolish and he thundered into challenges when the opportunity was there. He was Hearts' star man by some distance and further heightened his reputation among the support. It's been hard for the Tynecastle faithful to take this team to their heart this season. It's been very easy to love Michael Smith.
Aaron Hickey learned a lesson
The first half was the worst we've seen of the 17-year-old in his relatively young career. He twice dallied on the ball deep in Hearts territory. Both instances led to the corners, the second of which saw Alfredo Morelos equalise after drifting off Hickey who was caught ball watching. As the half was drawing to a close he looked visibly drained by his own performance and you had to wonder whether regular first-team football was taking its toll on the youngster. Instead, he rebounded terrifically in the second period. He wasn't what he did that was particularly special, but what he didn't do. He didn't let the errors of the first period weigh on his mind. He stuck to his task and produced a solid showing in the second 45 minutes. Having a short memory is a skill for any footballer and it'll stand Hickey in good stead for what continues to be a highly promising career.