How patience has been key to Stephen Kingsley's free-kick finesse at Hearts

Years of patience and practice have gone into honing Stephen Kingsley’s set piece prowess but it is only now that he is being given the platform to impress.

Hearts' Stephen Kingsley makes it 2-0 with a free kick during a cinch Premiership match between Heart of Midlothian and St Mirren at Tyncastle. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)
Hearts' Stephen Kingsley makes it 2-0 with a free kick during a cinch Premiership match between Heart of Midlothian and St Mirren at Tyncastle. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

On Saturday, against St Mirren, he offered up another free-kick gift to the football gods, whipping an inch-perfect delivery into the postage stamp corner of Jak Alnwick’s goal to build on Gary Mackay-Steven’s opener and ensure all three points would be staying in Gorgie.

But he says that despite years of hard work, it is only since arriving at Hearts that he has been able to showcase his talent.

“I didn’t score any free-kicks before coming to Hearts because I was playing with such talented players in England. I was doing my practice but I just never got the chance to take them.

Hearts' Stephen Kingsley celebrates making it 2-0 with a free kick against St Mirren. (Photo by Ross Parker / SNS Group)

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“In England Gylfi Sigurdsson took them at Swansea, and he was sensational at them.

“Jarrod Bowen at Hull was brilliant as well and Harry Wilson came on loan so I never got a look in. Now, to get the opportunity to take them has been brilliant.

“It is about working on it. You can do it one time out of 20 and put that on Instagram and look great but it’s more important to do it consistently and do it during a game.”

His fourth goal of the season, the precision execution was his third free-kick and it was all the more impressive when taken in conjunction with his quality defensive performance.

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“Sometimes you can overthink it and not think about your defensive duties but I’ve scored a few this season and it is nice to contribute to the team that way as well as getting a clean sheet,” conceded the 27 year-old, left-sided centre back, whose form has seen him touted for a Scotland recall, which is something he would love but he insists he can’t allow himself to be distracted by such dreams when he has a job to do at Hearts.

Against their Paisley challengers, Hearts had to dig deep, especially on the back of last week’s defeat away to Motherwell. Both teams pressed them, both fought for the points but, unlike at Fir Park, at Tynecastle, where Kingsley believes Hearts were “bullied”, there was an intransigence to the home performance against St Mirren, with Craig Gordon pulling off goalkeeping heroics and the rest of the team managing to press ahead and plot a win.

“It was a learning experience and we will get those games at times. Sometimes you have to grind it out and find other ways to win.

“We want Tynecastle to be a fortress but now we just need to take the home form into the away games and hopefully the wins come with that.”

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Protecting that unbeaten home record, it allowed them to see out the weekend in third spot, opening up a two-point gap on the chasing Dundee United.

“It’s massive to bounce back from those disappointments.

“After Aberdeen we were hurt after it and reacted with a 5-2 win over Dundee United with a great performance.

“The Motherwell game hurt and we had to pick ourselves up and look at the bigger picture. We have had a good start to the season and, yes, there have been a few bad performances but we bounced back again.”

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