It’s been a long, long season for Hearts fans who have watched their team falter at the bottom of the Premiership.
Tonight they face St Mirren in a game they simply have to win in their quest to keep their top flight status. They’ve been down in the Championship recently, the Jambos won’t want to go back.
Rays of light have appeared from their last three fixtures and now they’re unbeaten in four. Tonight’s clash is a huge chance to earn some vital points.
Must avoid getting cut off
The big thing to avoid from this game is getting stranded at the bottom. Already Hearts are clearly last, but only by three points. A victory tonight will see them go level on points with 11th placed St Mirren.
It would also bring Daniel Stendel’s side a point off tenth and three off ninth, safety from relegation. Alternatively though, defeat leaves them six points adrift of those precious safe spots of ninth and tenth.
They would then have eight games to make up that difference, still to face top six and European hopefuls Aberdeen and Livingston in that time. A home match with Ross County though could be another huge game before the split.
Potential ramifications of relegation probably aren’t worth bearing for Hearts, but there would certainly be consequences for dropping into Scotland’s second tier. Dundee United for example were impacted financially when they were relegated in 2017 and have yet to return to the top flight – although that won’t be the case for much longer it seems.
Whilst Hearts have shown up for matches against top six opposition, beating those around them has been an issue. Stendel’s side currently have just nine points and one victory to show from 13 games against current bottom six outfits.
Signs of recovery have been displayed in recent weeks. Hearts were stuttering under Craig Levein before his departure, and whilst Stendel’s only won twice since his appointment as manager in league action, fans have generally got behind their newly appointed German leader.
His high pressing style has been reigned back for a more careful approach, which has spurred them onto wins against Hibs and Rangers, plus a draw with Motherwell. It’s been the brightest run of results in their season thus far.
But winning in Paisley would perhaps top the lot in terms of importance. Quite simply, it’s one that the Jambos can’t think about losing.