HEARTS’ David Smith has accepted that Celtic were worthy of taking all three points on Saturday, but thinks the game may just have turned out differently but for another controversial penalty decision.
For the second match running, Jamie Hamill was penalised for deliberate handball in the box and, while goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald saved the spot-kick against Inverness Caley Thistle, this time he could do nothing to prevent Kris Commons giving the champions the lead.
“For a spell in the game we did well,” said Smith, who played the last 25 minutes in place of Billy King. “Obviously, Celtic are a good team, clinical in front of goal, and they take their chances, but I thought for parts of the game we did well.
“And at 1-1 we had a free kick that was a very good chance. If that goes in, it’s a different game. But they scored right after we got it back to 1-1 and it gave them a lift, so it was hard for us to get back into the game. Celtic deserved to win, but we gave it a good go.”
Smith had a good chance to score himself just after coming on, but his header went straight to Fraser Forster. “Maybe if it had been in the corner it would have gone in,” he said. “On a different day it might have gone in. If we had made it 2-2 we could have gone on and maybe got the victory.
“We’re a young team. We’ll go to the end. We’ve battled for everything this year, so I’m sure we could have gone on and won the game if we had got it back to 2-2. In every game we’ve had a decision against us, whether it’s been a penalty or a sending-off and that doesn’t help us.
“I haven’t actually seen the penalty again, but, from what I heard, it was harsh. But when things like that happen you’ve just got to get your head down and get on with it.
“You see a couple of teams in the league just now who are struggling to get points. We still need to hope they don’t get any. We’re a young team, full of enthusiasm, looking to get points every week, so I’m sure they’ll start worrying as the season goes on.”
Hamill would understandably be perplexed by the decisions that have gone against him in the past two games, but he remains one of Hearts’ most important players, as Smith explained. “This year, as you can see, he’s been playing centre-midfield and he’s one of the most experienced heads in the team. He’s encouraging – he doesn’t really get on your back, so that’s always a good thing.
“When an older player encourages you, you get a wee lift from that – and from his performances on the pitch as well. You can see that he never gives up, so we take a lead from that.”