Redemption for Hibs' summer pair, Hearts attacking through unusual means, youngster bags hat-trick - the weekend's winners and losers
Summary of what happened around the Lothians this past football weekend
Hearts and Hibs fans
We've all been there before: the team struggles, an under-pressure manager gets the sack, everyone rejoices and then OH DEAR GOD THE NEXT GUY IS JUST AS BAD! You figure out the players aren't any good so the new manager has to bring in his own ones. They turn out to be not very good too, and the whole cycle starts again.
For Hearts and Hibs fans, this may still turn out to be a reality. One swallow does not make a summer. However, at least this past Saturday gave them legitimate hope that things will be better for the rest of this campaign when they do manage to select the right candidate to replace the recently departed managers.
Christian Doidge and Jason Naismith (Hibs)
Two of Hibs' summer signings, a much-maligned collection of footballers, were massively influential in the 4-1 victory over St Johnstone. Doidge bagged himself a hat-trick, finally showing a killer touch to go along with the predatory movement around the final third, while Naismith roared up and down the wing in a manner he used to do on a weekly basis at Ross County, but which has been missing from his play in a Hibs top thus far.
Again, one swallow etc. But confidence is such a vital part of football and both of these players just earned themselves a huge helping of it going forward.
Steven Naismith's value (Hearts)
The striker's importance to Hearts and determining whether they win or lose matches has been repeated so often it borders on cliche, but that doesn't make it any less accurate.
Saturday was not Naismith at his best. He was good in the 5-2 win over St Mirren, but it wasn't a performance that blew anyone away. What stood out, as it often does, was his propensity to coach team-mates throughout the game. This was particularly useful for the likes of Uche Ikpeazu and Oli Bozanic, two players trusted with supporting Naismith but out of their comfort zone on the right wing and attacking midfield, respectively. Not coincidentally, each of those two impressed in a line-up that looked completely bonkers at the outset, though eventually got the job done.
Bradley Barrett (Tranent)
The youngster bagged a hat-trick in his side's 4-2 victory over Broxburn Athletic to reach the quarter-finals of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup. Afterwards he was singled out for praise by team-mate Ben Miller, who said: “He’s a great wee lad and still so young. He took all his goals really well and he’s been playing well this season; he’s scored some big, big goals for us. He gets on well with everybody, he’s a good wee laugh and he’s good to have in the dressing room."
Recently departed managers
Imagine you're Paul Heckingbottom. You're sitting at home in Barnsley in front of the tele as Gillette Soccer Saturday comes on. The recent sacking is still fresh in the mind, but you're grateful for your health and a chance to relax on a Saturday afternoon and watch the scores come in. Then, two minutes later, it comes up:
St Johnstone 0 Hibernian 1 Christian Doidge (2)
If Heckingbottom had thrown his cup of tea at the screen at that point, it would've been hard to blame him. And if this wasn't enough to provoke such a reaction, then surely it would have occurred after Doidge netted his second on 17 minutes before completing his hat-trick shortly before the hour mark.
The striker was Heckingbottom's marquee summer signing but couldn't hit the proverbial cow's backside with a banjo while the two of them shared time at Easter Road. Considering the chances that came Doidge's way earlier in the campaign, it's probable that Heckingbottom would still have been in a job if only he'd discovered his shooting boots sooner.
Then again, very few things happen by accident in football. Doidge's timing may have seemed cruel on his former boss, but perhaps his three-goal haul was a direct result of playing alongside Florian Kamberi, something Heckingbottom seemed hesitant to do despite his side's struggles throughout this campaign.
We could apply similar reasoning to Craig Levein's situation. His entire second tenure as manager of the club could be summed up by the question, 'is Steven Naismith fit?' If the answer was yes, Hearts were probably winning. If he wasn't, well things were unlikely to go well.
Naismith making his first start since August was, again, horribly bad timing for a manager who lost his job the week before. But again, Hearts' win wasn't solely down to the inclusion of the veteran striker. The rest of his team-mates were able to demonstrate the benefits of attacking as a team and netted five times, something Hearts haven't done in 15 months against any opponent.
Both Bonnyrigg and Linlithgow Rose crashed out of the SFA South Region Challenge Cup at the weekend. Dunipace got the better of Bonnyrigg, while Linlithgow exited to Camelon. A blow for both teams, yes, but they've each got bigger fish to fry later this month. Falkirk will be coming to EH49 to take on Linlithgow in the third round of the Scottish Cup in front of the BBC Scotland cameras. Bonnyrigg have got a tasty clash themselves, taking on Falkirk's League One rivals Montrose at New Dundas Park.