DANNY Wilson is hoping Hearts can tap back into the home form that has helped the side take six points out of nine at Tynecastle this season.
Hearts have been beaten just once at home during this campaign so far – a 3-1 defeat to Celtic earlier this month. This reverse was bookended by losses to Inverness and Ross County last weekend. The bottom club in the Premiership gained some relief after three successive league defeats courtesy of Wednesday night’s penalty shootout victory over Queen of the South in the League Cup, which secured a last eight meeting with Hibs next month.
There is much work to be done before then, however. A weary Hearts team will this afternoon attempt to get back to winning ways in the league against Dundee United in the knowledge that St Mirren, their nearest rivals at the bottom of the Premiership, are due next at Tynecastle.
The Paisley team still only have one point after six matches, meaning they are only nine ahead of Hearts, who are on minus 8. Wilson is aware that the next seven days could see this situation improve considerably in Hearts’ favour. The first step is to take maximum points against the visitors to Tynecastle today.
“Hopefully we’re in a good position for next weekend’s game against St Mirren, when we can hopefully take points from them,” said the skipper. “But first we need to take care of tomorrow’s game. We’ve picked up six points out of nine here at home, because of the incredible support we’ve had as much as anything, and we need to rediscover that momentum.
“People have said our performances over the last three league games have been good – but it doesn’t matter if you’re not getting the results. We’ve not been getting them, so the sooner the better.
“We are aware of what’s happening at St Mirren,” he added. “Obviously, we’ve been looking elsewhere for results over the last few weeks, because we’ve not being getting results ourselves. So we’re grateful nobody has pulled away from us but, at the same time, you look at that St Mirren squad and you have to think they’ll pick up points sooner rather than later.”
Manager Gary Locke had reported a clean bill of health after Wednesday night’s struggle against Queen of the South. “Everyone is okay,” he said. “I was worried the other night there about it going to extra-time. There is also the tiredness factor but training has been good. It’s important we get ourselves back on track.
“If you go to extra-time and penalties and go out, that can take its toll mentally. We’re in the next round of the cup, which is great. Now we’ve got two home games at Tynecastle which everybody is looking forward to.” United also go into today’s game on the back of a League Cup match. They made far easier progress than Hearts, beating Partick Thistle 4-1 in a match that saw David Goodwillie hit a hat-trick.
Until the cup tie, Goodwillie had found the back of the net just once since returning to Tannadice on loan from Blackburn in the summer. Now, team-mate John Rankin believes opponents will again fear playing against the striker.
“I think there was a lot of expectation on Goodie’s shoulders and I think on Wednesday night he probably answered a few critics,” said Rankin yesterday.
“I don’t think he ever had any doubts about himself. He does what he does, which is put the ball in the back of the net. His finishing was quality. I think it was the perfect hat-trick actually – left, right and a head. Fair play to him. If he can start banging in the goals, I’m sure a few teams will fear him.” Rankin has been pleased with United’s form in the Premiership so far this season and hopes for a fruitful trip to Tynecastle.
The midfielder said: “There is a lot of confidence going around just now because we are on quite a good run. If you take away the Celtic game earlier this month, we have been on a good run of form, when you take into account the two cup ties as well.
“There’s not a lot of rest at the moment, it’s just game after game. But when you’re winning and you’re on a good run, you want to keep the games going.”
Rankin added: “We know it will be a difficult game against Hearts. Tynecastle is never an easy place to go to. They probably got a great lift from their own tie. Winning on penalties will give the young boys a great boost and they will come out with all guns blazing on Saturday and with a lot of confidence.”