“A lot gets made of our strikers not scoring but to be second-top scorers in the league suggests we are doing something right in the last third. We need to keep that going and get back to what we were four games ago – being hard to score against. Up until the last four games, we had one of the best defensive records in the league. That shows we’ve got something to work with.”
Hearts have conceded 17 goals in 13 Premiership outings this term but have lost ten of them in the recent run of three draws and a defeat.
“The manner of the goals we’ve lost has been disappointing,” said the 33-year-old. “It’s not like we’ve been cut open and you have to hold your hands up and say ‘it’s a great goal’. The ones we’re conceding are sloppy. That’s something we need to rectify and get back to being strong at the back.”
A defensive belligerence would be welcomed as they seek a return to winning ways against Motherwell this afternoon. They are also determined to make up ground on Aberdeen, who are in cup action, and deny Rangers any further advantage prior to their upcoming double header.
There is a sense of relief that their rivals have not been up to capitalising more on Hearts’ recent stutter but Cowie concedes that is accompanied by a sense of frustration when they look at the points that have been dropped elsewhere.
“It would’ve been a great opportunity to put a bit of daylight between ourselves and others,” he said. “A few of us are vying for that second spot so, in that sense, it’s disappointing.” He is now hoping a sustained run of fixtures will lead to a more consistent winning return.
“I think the season has been a bit stop-start with international breaks and the game against Rangers being postponed because of the cup. It’s been hard to get momentum. I’m not going to hide the fact that this has been a run of games a club like Hearts goes into expecting and trying to win. To not win any is disappointing. On the positive side, we’re showing a good togetherness. We’re going behind in matches and we’re getting back into it late. That shows a lot about our squad but it’s important we start winning games.”
Motherwell midfielder Chris Cadden has been delighted to see some of his Youth Cup-winning team-mates seize their chance under manager Mark McGhee.
Defenders Jack McMillan and David Ferguson helped Motherwell record a 2-0 victory over Partick Thistle last weekend and have pushed their claim to start against Heart, while Ross MacLean has also featured in recent weeks.
Cadden, a Youth Cup winner himself in a 5-2 victory over Hearts in May, said: “It’s been brilliant to see them because I think when they have come in, they have been absolutely brilliant. It’s good because they all work hard, they have got great attitudes and they are all very good players who deserve their chance.”