After a set of poor results from mid-January to mid-February, Hearts` fortunes have taken a turn for the better. Was it down to the arrival of Craig Beattie ? Or could it perhaps be the re-juvenation of team spirit ahead of another spell of late wage payments ?
Either way, the team have turned in some impressive results recently, starting with a fine 2nd half comeback at Ibrox to pick up 3 points as Rangers` off-field problems started to be reflected on the pitch.
The Scottish Cup quarter-final at Tynecastle against St. Mirren started badly for Hearts, with the visitors taking a deserved lead through a direct free-kick. Howver the introduction of Rudi Skacel in the first-half helped Hearts to get back in the game through Craig Beattie`s header from a corner. Our new striker was very unlucky to see another goal disallowed on the stroke of half-time. Hearts dominated 40 minutes of the 2nd half, and took the lead through a Skacel header – but were then denied victory by a spirited final St.Mirren attack which saw Hasselbaink cause havoc in the home defence before seeing his close-in shot deflect off Zaluikas past McDonald.
A feature of this good run has been the excellent form of Ian Black, whose ball retention and passing ability helped Hearts dominate and win another Derby. But there is no doubt that Craig Beattie`s physical presence and strong running has given a new dimension to Hearts attacking play at a time when David Templeton has been out injured. At some point soon, it will be interesting to see these 2 together in the team.
Suso Santana`s return from injury has also contributed to Hearts revival, with vital goals against Kilmarnock and Hibs, while winning a late penalty against St. Johnstone in the Cup replay.
Last night`s win at Paisley puts Hearts through to their first Scottish Cup semi-final since 2006, which seems a long while ago. As the club desperately try to increase revenue and reduce costs, the extra income from the Cup run will be vital. A club like Hearts ought to be reaching a semi-final every 2 or 3 years surely – we`ve simply been under-performing in this respect for a long time.
Well done, Hearts !!! Let`s hope this good run continues in the League, starting with the trip to Perth.