Gary Mackay: Everyone's now pulling in the same direction .... up

What a wonderful week it's been for Hearts. We've continued our great away form and if we keep going like this, there's no doubt we'll be up there challenging for third place.

It's a massive thing when you're able to name the same starting line-up for three successive games - not just for the players but also for the management. Jim Jefferies and co got it right against Hibs and the confidence the team took from that was carried into the Celtic game and then into the St Johnstone game.

Saturday's performance was never going to be as good as the previous two because of the poor conditions and the fact there was less atmosphere in Perth than in the two previous games at Easter Road and Tynecastle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

After those two games, there was always a wee danger that things may be a bit flatter in Perth, but full credit to the players for going up there and getting the job done. Massive praise must also go to the fans who travelled north for what was the third match in less than a week. They had to wait a while but in the end the away supporters got their reward.

We got a wee bit of luck with the penalty decision. It was a very harsh decision - if you were on the receiving end of that you'd be disappointed - but sometimes you make your own luck if you have a positive attitude, and right now Hearts deserve everything they get for the way they are going about their business.

The nine points are great and the six goals are great, but for me the three clean sheets are the most significant aspect of this run. Five clean-sheet victories in our last six games is a superb return.

I always said that the end of November was when the league started to take shape. We're nearly at that stage now and we're sitting pretty so hopefully we can finish the month with a flourish and ensure that we remain third heading into next month. We've got a good chance to maintain momentum this weekend when we welcome Hamilton. The players will get a huge backing from the fans after the last three results. The roar that they receive as they take to the pitch on Saturday will be the supporters' way of saying thanks for what has been a really fabulous week of football for the club.

What happened against Kilmarnock a few weeks ago will act as a warning for Hearts when they face Accies, but equally I think Killie have shown this season and, in particular in their last four games, that they are no mugs. Had we lost in that manner to, say, St Mirren or Aberdeen, who have really been struggling then you could say it was a bit of a disaster, but Kilmarnock have been playing well all season so in hindsight we can say that game was a blip which we've recovered from brilliantly.

Hamilton, by contrast, have been struggling and haven't been playing as well as Killie had been, so we've got to view Saturday's match as a good opportunity to keep up momentum.

A pleasing aspect of Saturday's game was that Ryan Stevenson and Calum Elliot, who were both subs, combined for the second goal. Sometimes players who are out of the starting line-up can switch off a bit, but Ryan's goal proved that even those who haven't been starting are fully focused on doing their bit for the team and trying to get back in. That's a huge thing for the team as it shows everybody's pulling in the same direction. Jim Jefferies has always been big on team spirit and competition for places and the fact we have a strong squad who are all playing for each other and eager to make an impression is massive.

Throw in the fact our Marius Zaliukas, our influential club captain, has signed a new contract and everything in the garden could hardly be rosier.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

• JIM JEFFERIES was forced to celebrate the win over Celtic from the main stand as a result of his touchline ban. But I will be watching intently to see if certain other SPL managers find themselves banished to the stand for their recent outbursts.