DESPITE being only 20 years old, Dale Carrick is prone to rating himself by the number of goals scored – like any forward. It was possible, therefore, to see the relief mixed with delight in his eyes as he spoke about “getting the monkey off my back” after his header on Saturday helped Hearts secure a once unlikely looking point against St Johnstone.
“It’s a big relief,” he acknowledged, after scoring his first goal for the club in his 32nd first-team appearance. Of course, the majority of these outingss have come as substitute, often late in the game.
Indeed, Saturday counted as only his second start of the season, as Hearts came back from 3-1 down to draw 3-3, amid three red cards and much else besides.
Carrick’s header just before the hour mark gave Hearts some optimism, but there was much work still to do on an eventful afternoon at McDiarmid Park. “That is probably the craziest game I’ve ever been involved in,” said Carrick. “It was probably a good game to watch and a great atmosphere.”
The diminutive Carrick was a major contributor to the drama.
He even found himself in the thick of the goalmouth melee following which Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson and St Johnstone goalkeeper Alan Mannus were sent off after Sam Nicholson’s 87th minute strike brought the visitors to within a goal of their opponents, hence their eagerness to re-start.
“I was getting the ball and chucked it up to the halfway line,” said Carrick. “Then I turned round and saw the madness so I came back and tried to help out.
“I wasn’t involved, I was just trying to play the bodyguard and stop it – but I’m not the biggest.
“You don’t see the referee in the net very often do you? But I don’t really know what happened.
“The dressing room after the game was buzzing.
“It was great fight from the boys and we were all delighted to fight back from 3-1 down and get the draw. When their ’keeper was sent off and a defender put on the gloves it looked more positive and we tried to target him by putting high balls in and getting the taller guys to get headers in, and that’s what got us the result.
“It has shown that we are positive.
“We are trying to strive for everything and it’s building up morale with each game. We are just looking for that win now and hopefully we can get it soon.”