Stephen Kingsley explains why Crawley Town draw will be of benefit to Hearts
Stephen Kingsley believes Hearts will take a valuable lesson from the 2-2 draw with Crawley Town on Saturday as the squad prepare themselves for the rigours of a season playing in Europe.
The left-back scored twice during the visit of the League Two club, putting the hosts in a comfortable and deserved 2-0 lead at the break. But Hearts failed to maintain those standards at the start of the second half and Dom Telford took full advantage with a brace of his own to level the match.
Robbie Neilson’s side are guaranteed at least eight games in European competition this term as they will drop into the group stages of the Europa Conference League even if they fail to win their Europa League play-off.
In order to get the squad used to having so little time to prepare for the next match, Hearts have been scheduling midweek friendlies down in England before returning to play another match on the weekend. There are no overnight stays as the team are immediately shuttled back on to the bus before arriving home in the wee small hours. They will do so again this coming week, going down to Preston before Stoke City come to Edinburgh for Gary Locke’s testimonial.
Kingsley is confident this will benefit the team after receiving a warning against Crawley about the dangers of taking their eyes off the ball once the Scottish Premiership gets back underway.
“Having this period in pre-season and with the travelling, more than anything, is going to take a bit of getting used to,” said the defender.
“We started well but in the second half we didn’t kick on, whether that be a bit of tiredness or lack of concentration, I don’t know what it was. But that’s why we’ve organised these games to see what it’ll be like during the season and we need to learn from it and move on.
“It’s a privilege to go and play in Europe, so it’s one we’re all looking forward to but it comes with that responsibility of making sure when you get back your eyes are back on the league and getting a performance and a win.
“It’s going to be tough but we can’t have spells in the second half where we switch off or aren’t quite at it, we need to keep pushing.
“I’ve never played in European competition before, so I’m looking forward to it as much as everyone else in the changing room. I’m absolutely buzzing to experience it.”
Kingsley lit up the contest with two goals in the opening 17 minutes, including a cracker to get things going. Receiving a pass over 30 yards from goal, the left-sided defender took a touch before smashing his effort beyond a helpless Corey Addai in goal. No wonder the home crowd were imploring him to have a pop at any opportunity.
“I heard them say shoot and to be fair the way my touch was it just bounced perfectly to hit on the half-volley,” he said. “II wasn’t going to pass up that one.
“I didn’t know where it was going to go but it was too inviting not to hit.”