The Tynecastle captain, Christophe Berra, doesn’t pretend it isn’t advantageous that Inverness Caledonian Thistle will lie in wait in the last four if Craig Levein’s men can take care of Partick Thistle in next Tuesday’s fifth-round replay on their own patch after a 1-1 draw in Monday’s original tie at Firhill.
But Berra believes taking the scalps of lower league sides is the preserve of only a select few sides in UK football at the minute. And his memories of Hearts’ struggles in the 2006 final against second tier Gretna – the defender was on the bench that day as the odds-on Gorgie favourites required penalties to see off their unfancied opponents – means he believes Hearts can take nothing for granted in the Scottish Cup this month.
“We are not daft. It is all about attitude and application,” said the Hearts captain. “We showed great attitude and application at Firhill, especially the first half. We were on the front foot, competitive and they were on the back foot, they were there for the taking, we just couldn’t’ finish them off so credit to them. But yes, we have never done anything easy at Hearts. Not many teams do unless you are a Man City or a, I was going to say Liverpool but not even them just now, or Celtic. That’s football for you, we will do it the hard way and our aim is to win the cup.
“Obviously whoever gets through it is a favourable draw but we are not looking that far ahead. We have Dundee on Saturday and our aim is back to the league and we want to be top four.”
Levein and his team were left exasperated by their inability to book themselves a semi-final place the other night despite swamping the second tier’s bottom place side across a first half where they only had Berra’s headed goal to show for their complete control.
The slender lead meant they were vulnerable to one moment of quality from Partick and it arrived late on when Christie Elliott netted from a superb Craig Slater cross.
“They had one chance,” said Berra. “It was a great ball, it could have been offside and we could have had a penalty against Uche [Ikpeazu], some people say it was a stonewaller. But that’s football for you, if you don’t kill teams off you can get punished and we switched off for their goal. We are still in the cup and look forward to the game at Tynecastle.”
So, too, will Thistle, despite most feeling their chances of causing an upset evaporated at Maryhill. Elliott believes the draw will give them a “massive incentive.” He said: “A game against Inverness is one we can win, we’ve beaten them before, and though Tynecastle will be tough, we have to go there with no fear.”