HEARTS manager John McGlynn today acclaimed his defence for a solid performance at Parkhead in yesterday’s narrow defeat to Celtic. Georgios Samaras scored the game’s only goal but McGlynn reserved praise for his back four after goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald was stretchered off.
Ryan McGowan, Andy Webster, Marius Zaliukas and Danny Grainger have been McGlynn’s favoured back line for most of the season and provided Hearts with a solid base for their visit to the SPL champions. Samaras struck in the 34th minute, by which time Peter Enckelman had replaced MacDonald, who suffered a head knock.
Having criticised the manner in which goals were lost against Kilmarnock in Hearts’ previous outing, McGlynn made a point of applauding yesterday’s defensive performance.
“I thought the defence was excellent. The whole of our back four were great,” he said. “It was a good performance from Andy Webster and Marius Zaliukas, which won’t do them any harm as they go away on international duty. Same for Ryan McGowan, who is also going off to play for Australia. He did really really well considering the level of players Celtic have. And Danny Grainger acquitted himself well against James Forrest. I was happy with the whole team because everyone worked hard, we kept a good shape, were well organised and hard to break down. Obviously Celtic are going to have a good bit of the ball and create chances, that’s going to happen. But I thought we handled them very well over the piece.
“I’ve seen situations here before where Celtic score the first goal and then run over the top of you. But that wasn’t the case. I thought we passed our way back into the game, created some chances and were unlucky not to get a point out of the match.”
MacDonald collided with Charlie Mulgrew and was briefly knocked unconscious but recovered quickly in the away dressing room. “Jamie is fine,” explained McGlynn. “At half-time he was sitting up having a drink and I saw the doctor checking his eyes and everything. So he’s been checked out and he is fine.”
Meanwhile, young Hearts defender Kevin McHattie has been called into the Scotland Under-21 squad, joining fellow Riccarton academy graduates Jason Holt and Dale Carrick in Billy Stark’s group.