Neilson’s role in winner
Seconds before Craig Wighton broke the Arbroath offside trap to run on to Michael Smith’s long pass and loft the ball delicately over the advanced Derek Gaston, manager Robbie Neilson had implored the 23-year-old to get closer to Liam Boyce as the second striker. Wighton had drifted over to the left too much meaning he was effectively out of the game with the ball on the right side and his partner without support. But in the immediate seconds which followed he displayed his ability at playing on the shoulder, using his movement and pace to trouble defences in behind. There were encouraging signs of a possible partnership if Neilson was to opt for a two-pronged strikeforce.
Frear on the wing
In the warm-up prior to the match, the team underwent a crossing and shooting exercise. Much of what occurred left a lot to be desired. However, one player more than most was coming in for praise and impressing – Elliot Frear. The summer signing displayed a variety of crosses and an accuracy which his team-mates weren’t matching. The winger took that into the start of the match and began brightly. However he quickly faded as the team struggled to get the ball to him. While Josh Ginnelly can pick up the ball and bulldoze forward Frear’s game is about getting the ball in one v one situations to create a crossing opportunity. He was rarely involved past the first 15 minutes before being subbed in the second half.
The one thing…
Hearts didn’t want to happen, happened. After nine minutes Josh Ginnelly went down injured and had to be removed. As soon as he hobbled off the pitch everyone knew he was already a doubt for Saturday’s Hampden Park showdown with Hibs. For fans, it was ANOTHER eye roll at ANOTHER injury. The on loan Preston winger has impressed in the beginning of his Hearts career, so much so there is already a desire for his stay to be prolonged. Hearts missed his pace and drive at Gayfield. And if he misses the semi final he will be an even greater miss due to the threat he poses in those wide spaces at Hampden Park.