Ryan Stevenson reflects on ‘lowest point of career’
SCORING twice in a Hampden cup final would normally be an achievement to cherish, but it provided not even scant consolation for Hearts midfielder Ryan Stevenson as he tried to come to terms with the disappointment of League Cup defeat.
Stevenson missed out on Hearts’ Scottish Cup final success last season, having left them for Ipswich Town in protest at repeated late payment of wages. His second spell at the club looked set to land him a winners’ medal yesterday when he fired Hearts in front in the tenth minute but his day turned sour as St Mirren hit back to lead 3-1. Stevenson’s second goal of the afternoon proved too late for a recovery. “I probably can’t sum my feelings up at the moment,” said Stevenson. “I’m just massively disappointed with the way the game has turned out. I thought we did enough to win it, or at least take the game into extra-time.
“In the first half, if we had taken another one of our chances then it would have been a different game. But it is the story of our season. We didn’t take any of those chances and then we gave away three poor goals from our point of view. Usually scoring two goals in a final would be something you’ll look back on with pride. But I’ll probably see this as the lowest point of my career.
“We got the first goal and the chances we then had weren’t even half chances – they were gilt-edged chances, balls flying across goal just looking for tap-ins. But we couldn’t get anybody on the end of them and it’s come back to bite us.
“Losing goals as quickly as we did killed the game. They were cheap goals to lose in a cup final. But credit to St Mirren, they took their chances and at the end of the day they deserved their win.”
Stevenson was especially dismayed not to deliver a trophy success for Gary Locke, just 24 hours after the former club captain had been confirmed as manager on a permanent basis. “The club have done the right thing and doing it before the final was a massive boost,” added Stevenson. “You know what it means to him. He is Hearts through and through. Allied to that, he’s a good coach, he was a good footballer and he knows what he is talking about. So we’re just really disappointed we couldn’t get him the win. It would have been some story getting the job yesterday and winning the cup today.
“At half-time, Gary just told us to keep believing. He told us we had lost our way in the last ten or 15 minutes of the half.
“So to come out and lose a goal right away left us with an uphill battle. For the players, it’s now about trying to repay the faith he has shown in us. We want to try and finish the season as strongly as we can for him. He didn’t have to say anything to us after the game, he could see the state the boys were in and how disappointed we were. It’s still a bit raw and it will take a couple of days to sink in and realise the chance we had. You don’t usually get to a final without one of the bigger teams in it. It’s a chance we might not get again.”
Hearts’ on-loan Liverpool defender Danny Wilson admitted the Tynecastle side only had themselves to blame for allowing a winning position to slip from their grasp.
“St Mirren took their chances but we didn’t take ours,” he said. “They scored before half-time and then we didn’t start the second half very well. The game just went away from us from there. If you don’t take your chances, you are always going to be open to getting punished. We didn’t get going again until they scored their third goal. There was very little time to turn it around. We’ll look back on this for sure, but it’s not really one we’ll want to remember too much.”
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Friday 24 May 2013
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