How Hearts can fashion more scoring chances and solve creativity issue with time
The level of competition in forward areas should ensure they resolve a current lack of creativity. They have managed three goals in each of their last three matches, two of those being Liam Boyce penalties.
The other was Jamie Walker’s sumptuous strike to beat Dunfermline. He is fighting for game time alongside Gary Mackay-Steven, Aaron McEneff, Gervane Kastaneer, Steven Naismith, Euan Henderson, Elliott Frear and Aidy White. Josh Ginnelly would also be prominent in that list but for a ruptured hamstring.
Boyce and fellow striker Armand Gnanduillet are clearly capable finishers but they have not been supplied with a plethora of opportunities since last month’s 4-0 win at Raith Rovers.
The range of attacking personnel would suggest Hearts have enough quality to create and score more in the fullness of time. New arrivals Mackay-Steven, McEneff and Kastaneer are still settling in, and manager Robbie Neilson is perhaps still looking at which combinations work best.
“When you've got good players in every position, that brings out the best in people,” said Walker. “I'm delighted to see the new boys coming in. Aaron has brought a bit of quality but I will keep working hard and trying to contribute to the team.
“Gary Macaky-Steven has played in the top league before and is used to the top level. I think Robbie has brought them in looking towards next season as well – but we have games to win just now so that's what we're looking at.
“It was a disappointing night on Friday. I thought we started the game well but they sat in and we passed it from side to side. We didn't create much. In the end, we were lucky to get a point.
“That's why we're in the team, to create that one chance or that little but of magic. We got the penalty at the end, which I think was a penalty, so we got a point.”
Palmerston Park’s astroturf surface did not seem to suit Hearts, nor did Gnanduillet’s absence with a tight hamstring. The home side also deserve credit for their defiance after moving ahead through Ayo Obileye’s first-half penalty.
“We knew the game was going to be like that. They weren't going to come and press us,” added Walker. “On the balance of play, we had a lot of possession and a point was probably deserved from that perspective. We didn't create clear-cut chances, though.
"We are just going to keep taking each game as it comes, keep winning and hopefully get the club back into the top league.”
The draw pushed Hearts 13 points clear at the Championship summit, although they have played twice more than second-placed Raith. “We need to take it one game at a time and perform better than we did on Friday to win matches,” admitted Walker.
“It's no excuse at Queen of the South but the pitch isn't great. They sat behind the ball and made it difficult. We are back at home this week [against Morton] so we will be looking for a better result and performance.”