GARY Locke once had a proud record of never having lost to Hibernian either as a player or a coach, but since taking over as Hearts manager he has presided over a draw and a defeat.
As a passionate supporter of his club he would have been disappointed by any kind of loss to their city rivals, but he found yesterday’s 2-1 defeat particularly hard to take because of the lack of desire shown by his own team.
“It’s always bitter when you get beaten by Hibs on your own park, but the most disappointing thing for me today was the performance,” Locke said.
“Over the years there’s no doubt that we’ve had the better record in the derbies. This is a season where we’ve not managed to beat them and it’s a sore one to take. But for me we’ve just got to look ahead and try and get a couple of players in over the summer, then go again next season.”
Hearts had won three of their last four games before yesterday’s match, and had looked particularly impressive in a 3-0 home win against St Mirren eight days earlier. But they looked flat yesterday, and showed little of the drive from midfield that was the key in that win against the Paisley side.
“That was the disappointing thing for me, because we have been playing well,” Locke continued. “We’ve rightly been getting plaudits for the last three or four weeks. Today we just didn’t get going. It’s not something you can put your finger on, the preparation was the same.
“For me, early in the game Hibs played at the type of tempo I was expecting from my players. I’m not disappointed in any individual – it’s collectively. In a derby game everybody knows you’ve got to win your individual battles, and today we lost too many.”
Locke admitted that, after taking the lead just before half-time, his team failed to capitalise on their advantage. “We came in 1-0 up and probably didn’t deserve to be ahead. There weren’t a lot of chances in the game, but they tended to get on to the second balls in the middle of the pitch more than we did.
“[At half-time] we tried to stress the importance of winning those second balls and playing the game in their half of the pitch – then we go and give away a silly free-kick and we all know what Leigh Griffiths is capable of. It’s a fantastic strike.
“For the second goal it’s our throw-in, we give the ball away, and they score. So I’m really, really disappointed.”