CALLUM Paterson hailed his winner against Hibernian yesterday as the best goal of his senior career – then quickly added that he had only scored a handful so far.
The 18-year-old Hearts striker has been working with one of his distinguished predecessors in the role, John Robertson, and explained that the two had been practising the move during their last training session together before the derby. And he explained that the Hearts players felt they owed a lot to the supporters, who kept the club in existence last season by putting £1million into a share issue, and have since continued their fundraising effort.
“It’s number one, but I’ve only scored five,” Paterson said of the goal which produced a 1-0 home victory at Tynecastle. “That was what we were working on on Friday: headers at the front post. All the players know we need to repay the fans. We probably wouldn’t be here if wasn’t for them. So we need to keep on their good side, keep playing the way we are, keep the fans happy, keep everyone else happy and keep going the way we’re going.
“We weren’t really under any pressure. They had all the pressure on them. We were just trying to close the gap from 15 points, and it’s down to 12 now. We always had belief, but that’s just sparked it up even more.”
While suggesting that Hibs were the ones who went into the game bearing the greater burden of expectation, Paterson accepted that he and his team-mates had put some pressure on themselves to achieve. “We were trying to get a result and had that pressure, but we played the way we wanted to play.”
The one obvious downside of the afternoon from Hearts’ point of view was the injury that ended Ryan Stevenson’s match early in the first half and that could keep the midfielder out of action for months. Stevenson was able to come back out and watch the closing stages of the game after receiving initial treatment to his leg injury, and celebrated with his team-mates on the pitch at the end.
“We’re gutted for Stevo, but we’ll get the results back and, hopefully, it should be nothing,” Paterson added.
The panache with which Paterson took his chance yesterday suggests he could develop into a formidable centre-forward. At this stage of his career, however, it is uncertain where he will end up playing.
“I think he’s got the attributes to be a good striker, but he’s also got the attributes to be a good wide-right player or right midfield man,” Hearts manager Gary Locke said. “He gives you legs up front and he’s good in the air. So he gives you a bit of presence and that worked reasonably well for us today.”