To say Uche Ikpeazu had a whirlwind 81 minutes against Aberdeen at Tynecastle is an understatement. From physical menace to missing an open goal, the big striker came up with a wonderful winner before then being taken off with a head knock.
Andrew Considine tried to take the ball of the 6’3 striker, but he failed. With the Dons defender backtracking, Scott McKenna was the next person to try and stop him. He too got nowhere near him and Ikpeazu put his shot into the bottom corner.
He had just scored for the first time in the league since August and he wanted everyone to know about it. From the supporters to his manager Craig Levein, they could all see what the goal meant to the Jambos forward.
Soon after his goal, Ikpeazu was being stretchered off after a clash of heads with Dons defender Dom Ball. He’s now a doubt for games against Rangers and Hibernian and might even be a doubt for the Scottish Cup semi-final.
If the boys in maroon want any success in these fixtures, they will need their Saturday hero to be available, as he has showed he can become Hearts’ main man.
Ikpeazu isn’t your typical striker. You’re not going to see him doing fancy tricks and spinning his man on the park. He might not even score on a regular basis. What you will see though is sheer determination, mixed in with the fact defenders can’t handle him when he’s on form.
It’s his time to step up. In a period where top scorer Steven Naismith is out injured, Ikpeazu is the main man up top. Hearts need him fit if they want to end the season on a high.
Against Derek McInnes’ men he turned in one of his best Hearts performances. In the first half he was cut off, isolated at the helm of the Jambos attack as Aberdeen took full control of the game.
Come the second half though it was a different story. Even though he was constantly fouled with not much sympathy from referee John Beaton, Ikpeazu still managed to create some decent chances for himself. The fact he was booked for diving and denied a penalty after being clearly fouled by Dons keeper Joe Lewis is baffling.
His confidence could have shattered into pieces when he missed an open goal in the second half. For all the running he did the goal didn’t look to be forthcoming. All his efforts were rewarded in the 77th minute though and he was so deserving of that goal.
The Englishman has to add more goals to his game if he wants to become the main man at Tynecastle. It’s not for the lack of effort though. In the absence of Naismith, the striker has to deliver on a regular basis.
What has made up for his lack of regular goals is his physicality. At 6’3 the striker shouldn’t be one of the fastest men on the park. He can quite literally knock people off their feet with his sheer physical power, providing Levein with a massive out ball should Hearts need to get up the park in a hurry.
Ikpeazu can flip a game on its head. He’s a creator of chaos at the top end of the park, a monster for opposition defences to deal with him. When he’s on form there is no stopping him. Adding goals to his game could see the big forward become one of the league’s best strikers.