Football can be a cruel game, as Hearts found out away at Motherwell. What looked to be a valuable point in the Jambos’ quest for Europe was robbed at the last minute.
After Ben Garuccio’s foul and subsequent red card, David Turnbull was stood over a 93rd minute free kick. His curling effort was spilled into the net by Colin Doyle to give the Steelmen a 2-1 victory, their sixth successive league win.
Yet all is not lost, Doyle ought to keep his head up. A few vital saves kept the away side in the match, and on another day we could have seen a different result. A one-on-one save denied Gboly Ariyibi and he tipped over a pile driver from teenager Turnbull.
Despite being beaten by another hot prospect in Jake Hastie earlier on in the match, Doyle’s form since coming into the side has been impressive.
Six of Doyle’s 10 appearances have seen the Irishman keep a clean sheet. In those 10, he’s only conceded twice away at Aberdeen, two to Dundee, a penalty away at Kilmarnock and the goals at Motherwell. Seven conceded in the 10 might not be great but six clean sheets can’t be ignored.
What must annoy Craig Levein and his side was the fact that prior to the match Aberdeen dropped points at home to St Mirren. Then you can add the fact that Celtic’s last-gasp winner at Rugby Park meant Kilmarnock walked away with nothing.
Big fixtures to come
Hearts missed yet another opportunity to capitalise on Europe-chasing sides dropping points. All is not lost for the Jambos though, with big games coming up. Perhaps the biggest of them is the Scottish Cup quarter final away at Partick Thistle. They are three wins away from a potential trophy.
Big league games are to come, Celtic visit Tynecastle later this month. Some winnable fixtures come before Aberdeen visit to the capital, a trip to Ibrox and then a derby at Tynecastle prior to the split. Doyle and Hearts’ confidence has to be regained in order for the Jambos to fulfil their ambitions.