Gary Locke urges Hearts squad to keep up good run

HEARTS manager Gary Locke wants his side to finish the season by proving they would have secured their Premiership status had they not been hit with a crippling points deduction.

Gary Locke: Eager for Hearts to prove they would have secured Premiership status without 15pt deduction. Picture: SNS

The Tynecastle outfit recently had their relegation to the Championship confirmed but the writing had been on the wall for Locke’s team prior to the campaign kicking off, after they were handed a 15-point penalty and signing embargo for plunging into administration.

Saturday’s ill-tempered 2-0 win over Ross County, Hearts’ third victory in four matches, pushed their opponents into the relegation play-off place.

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With 31 points, Hearts have racked up the same number of points as County but find themselves cut adrift at the basement.

And Locke is determined to ensure that Hearts do not complete the season with the lowest points tally.

He said: “It’s a target, if we can get within the 15 points then great.

“I’ve said to the lads that we’re on a good wee run, we’re improving all the time and we just want to win as many games between now and the end of the season.

“One thing is for sure, we’ll have a huge backing wherever we’re playing.”

After a nondescript first half, the game came to life in the 65th minute when Hearts full-back Kevin McHattie was brought down in the box by Graham Carey.

Jamie Hamill converted from 12 yards but then collected a second booking for sparking a melee as he celebrated.

The midfielder refused to give the ball back to the opposition and knocked down County manager Derek Adams in the technical area.

As the visitors pushed for an equaliser, Dale Carrick added a second deep into injury time after meeting Scott Robinson’s pass inside the area.

Prospective Hearts owner Ann Budge said in a letter to supporters at the weekend that the club should be out of administration before the start of next season to avoid another points deduction.

Locke added: “It would be fantastic if we’re out of administration before the start of next season, you’ve seen how costly it has been for us this season.”

Ross County manager Derek Adams, meanwhile, expressed his regret that his team could not reward a large travelling support with a victory.

He said: “I’m disappointed for our fans because they travelled all the way down and they went home disappointed.

“We probably didn’t have the enthusiasm that Hearts had and that was disappointing.

“There was a big support, everyone is disappointed but we have to move on to the Kilmarnock game.”