While several of his Hearts team-mates have been making their debut on the European stage this season, the veteran midfielder has been leaning on past participations in an attempt to help the capital side navigate the tricky demands of domestic and foreign football.
Out of the Europa Conference League before their game against RFS kicked off, thanks to Fiorentina’s victory over Istanbul Basaksehir in the earlier kick-off, Hearts managed to put their disappointment to one side to make it two wins out of two against Latvian rivals RFS and ensure a third place finish in Group A. An early goal from Lawrence Shankland set them on their way but it was the second goal from Halliday that proved decisive.
“I thought the atmosphere was outstanding,” said Halliday. “Look, in these European games you need a bit of luck and I thought we got that. It is something that has deserted us over the last few weeks. Before the game I was actually bemoaning the fact that I am 31-years-old and I had never scored a deflection. That was pre-match but then there you go, I get a deflected goal and that was the bit of luck that we needed.
“We had a couple of chances to make it a bit more comfortable but they had a couple of chances as well. We had to dig deep. We were down to the bare bones already because of injuries and we had to dig deep again but sometimes those are the most satisfying wins.”
A boost to morale and to the club coffers, thanks to the hefty win bonus, if the injury to Stephen Kingsley was one downside ahead of the trip to Ross County on Sunday, there were positives in the performance of the likes of Toby Sibbick. A player who has had to weather a personal storm and dip in form, his man of the match performance against RFS justified his manager and team-mates’ faith in him, according to Halliday.
“We’ve seen the quality Toby has got in training,” the midfielder continued. “He is a big boy and lightning quick for a centre half and when we want to play that high a line he is brave enough and has that turn of pace to be able to deal with players one v one.”
But, on Sunday, Hearts – who currently sit seventh in the cinch Premiership – have to prove themselves all over again against a side who tested them on the opening day of the Premiership season.
“It is a difficult league. It is very competitive and I think a lot of teams have improved,” said Halliday ahead of the meeting with the Dingwall outfit. “We want to pick up as many points as we can up until the World Cup break, to try to close that gap and, of course, get bodies back and have a real go at it after the break.
“County have not had the results they maybe were expecting because when we played them in the first game of the season they were like Barcelona for 45 minutes! So, we know they have players who can hurt you but if we turn up we are more than capable of getting results, that’s for sure.”