JAMIE MacDONALD today labelled his penalty stop in Hearts’ Scottish Cup win over St Mirren as one of the best saves of his career, and better than the one he produced against Tottenham Hotspur last August.
The goalkeeper showed impressive reactions to push Graham Carey’s 13th-minute spot-kick for a corner as Hearts won the quarter-final replay in Paisley 2-0 to secure a semi-final place against Celtic.
Having stopped Harry Kane’s penalty for Tottenham at White Hart Lane in the Europa League play-off tie last year, MacDonald has now saved two penalties out of two this season. He rates last night’s as one of his best-ever saves.
“It’s up there with one of the best of my career, better than the one against Tottenham,” he told the Evening News.
“The Tottenham save was great, but, although it wasn’t a nothing game, we were already out because we’d lost the first leg 5-0. When you take everything into consideration last night, it was a better save.
“It was a cup quarter-final so it meant more. I was delighted with the save, but it also contributed to us getting to the semi-final. It’s probably up there as one of my top three saves.”
MacDonald explained the analysis he applied before deciding to dive to his left: “After the first game against St Mirren a couple of weeks ago, when Carey scored his free-kick, I had an idea which way he would go. He whipped the ball round and reversed it that day so I decided to go the same way.
“Danny Grainger had a word with me and he thought the same, so that made my mind up and I got down as early as I could. I got a good hand on the ball and pushed it out for a corner, so I was delighted. I think the game changed after that, too.”
Although elated by Hearts’ progress, MacDonald advised his team-mates to forget their semi-final date for now with vital league games to be negotiated first. “The semi- final isn’t until April 15. That’s a month away,” he continued.
“There’s no point looking forward to that because we’ve got a job to do over the next few weeks against St Johnstone on Saturday, then Aberdeen and Dunfermline.
“We’re confident enough of taking points in these games and we want to try and get that fourth position in the league. We’ll deal with the cup semi when it comes around.”