Lawrence Shankland explains the argument with a fan at full-time after Hearts' win at Kilmarnock

The Tynecastle captain was the subject of diving accusations
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Visits to Rugby Park always carry a high level of aggression for Lawrence Shankland and Saturday was no exception. Having been a prolific goalscorer with local rivals Ayr United, Kilmarnock supporters are never particularly welcoming towards the striker. And certainly not when he has just struck a winning goal against them.

Shankland's shot deflected into Kilmarnock's net via goalkeeper Will Dennis' arm to earn Hearts three vital points in East Ayrshire. The Tynecastle captain was then seen exchanging some frank views with a home fan near the tunnel at full-time. He didn't mind a few verbals knowing he had the last laugh.

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"Yes. There were a few people throwing diving shouts about," explained Shankland. "I think I got one foul in 90 minutes so I don’t know where they are getting that from. Listen, I was at Ayr and I did really well there so I don’t think they are big fans of me down there. I don’t mind it. It was a bit of banter, to be honest.

"The guy was raging. To be fair, he’d sat there in the freezing cold and wanted to give me a bit. Fair play." Not many would fancy voluntarily toppling onto Kilmarnock's astroturf pitch on a sub-zero day like Saturday. "Exactly. It’s solid at the best of times never mind when it is frozen. But it was just a bit of banter. There was nothing in it," said Shankland.

He would happily claim the decisive goal, although it has officially gone down as an own goal by Dennis. "I don’t think the goalie wants it, to be fair, so I will take it. Whoever it’s awarded to, I’m just glad the goal was the winner," he remarked.

It secured a fourth successive league win for Hearts as they build momentum under head coach Steven Naismith. Underpinning the consistency is some sterling defensive work by the back three of Stephen Kingsley, Frankie Kent and Kye Rowles. "Things are going well at the minute. Results have been good and that’s the main thing," said Shankland.

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"I think it’s important for everyone in the team to be doing their defensive duties. That includes me at the top end of the pitch. We have been doing it really well as a team, set plays and stuff. There are a lot of positives in terms of that side of our game and we can be proud because it’s hard work.

"I think results show that [consistency]. That’s four wins on the trot now. It shows we are starting to find the way to win games and to do it regularly. It's important that week in, week out, you are finding ways to win football matches."

Next on the fixture list are Rangers at Tynecastle on Wednesday. Beyond that, Shankland will hope to make Scotland's Euro 2024 squad if he maintains goalscoring form. Saturday's draw put the national side in Group A next summer alongside tournament hosts Germany, plus Hungary and Switzerland. Things are now getting real.

"Of course. You know the opposition at the tournament," said Shankland. "That is something I will let all you get excited about but I will just deal with football just now. When the time comes, I'll deal with it."

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