According to Hearts manager Gary Locke, the mountain has just got bigger following yesterday’s 2-0 defeat by Partick Thistle.
The mountain to which he was referring is the task of bridging a forbidding 19-point gap that has opened up between the Tynecastle side and Ross County at the bottom of the Premiership table.
“It is extremely difficult now,” he admitted, before describing the two goals conceded before half-time as a “disaster” since they both resulted from defensive lapses. Thistle opened the scoring through Lyle Taylor after Kallum Higginbotham was allowed to flick on a long ball from defence, while their second came from Aaron Taylor-Sinclair, who was left unmarked at a corner.
“That was a big game,” lamented Locke, whose side have now lost 14 of their 21 league games and have won just once in the Scottish Premiership since August. “We lost the first header, which was poor when you look at the size of Higginbotham. You have to win the ball in their air there. And the second one is a free header as well. It really rankled with me because we work hard to make sure we are solid defensively, especially at set plays and we have lost a free header.
“The mountain just got bigger,” he added. “We can’t just expect to turn up for 45 minutes. I am very disappointed with the first half, we were not at the races. It really disappointed me because our second-half performance showed what we need to do for 90 minutes. You need to give yourself a chance, but the two goals we lost were a disaster.”
Asked about the distance between Hearts and their nearest rivals, he said: “We just need to keep going. There is nothing else we can do. You see today that without Danny Wilson and Jamie Hamill, it is a massive ask for us.”
Thistle manager Alan Archibald was surely understating things when he said he would be “disappointed” if his side gave up what is now a 20-point lead over Hearts. “Hopefully today’s victory can give us confidence and we look at the teams above us. We can maybe make it interesting,” he added.