Fresh off winning Player of the Match in Sunday’s victory over Hamilton Accies, her first for the club, Beth McKay is starting to find her feet in maroon.
Having signed in March, the winger-turned-left back endured a frustrating start to her Hearts career, struggling to settle in the side before missing the last two months of the season.
A fresh start in pre-season, with a fresh new number (three - her lucky number) and a fresh new position on the field, the Northern Irish international is starting to find her feet.
Now a mainstay in Eva Olid’s side, McKay played the full 90 minutes in the last two matches, crucial away victories against Partick Thistle and Hamilton Accies, which she feels is the least the team has deserved after the hard work the girls, and the coaching staff, have put in.
“After the last two matches, things are definitely on the up for us,” she said. “We’ve maybe not won as many games as we could have won, and definitely not as many as we should, but that’s all part of the process when you bring in a coach who wants to change everything.
“Eva has changed the culture of the club, the style of play, the mentality of the players. These things take time to make happen, they don’t just happen overnight so it takes a while to get used to it. Hopefully, for the rest of the season, we can continue to show how good we are.”
Although a regular under Eva Olid, Beth did endure something of a stop-start opening to the season once the new manager had arrived due to a combination of factors, which meant competing for a position with her close friend - and gym buddy - Shona Cowan.
However, a revolutionary new focus on women’s team training from the new coaching staff at Oriam has seen drastically improved levels of fitness and technical ability, with the amount of training more than doubling from that of last season.
“It’s been a bit of a mixed season for me so far through illness or injury when I otherwise probably would have played, and I’m still settling into a new position for the season which takes time to learn, obviously. I know there are lots I can improve on.
“I’d like to improve on going forward and offering support in attack, being braver, not just settling for playing the safe option just because I’m a defender so it should be safety first. I think you learn over time knowing when to stay and when to go, that’s probably the most valuable thing about being a left-back.
“The difference from last season is night and day. We’re training five times a week now, we have extra sessions as well as individual and positional training, which is a huge help when you’re learning a new position. Eva has also implemented a new style of play, which is a lot more technical and based on quick passing and movement, there’s no aimless punting the ball long, and the professional atmosphere makes it a joy to come and train.”
Finally, as an ex-Spartan herself, Beth felt in a good position to offer her take on how this afternoon’s match might play out, with the last two matches between the teams being fairly even as well.
“The game against Spartans will be a more physical one than the last game we played at Hamilton, a tight game, definitely fairly even between the sides. We know we can go out and win if we put a performance that we’re capable of. It could be a slight clash of styles but we’re hopeful that the way we play will be enough to get us the victory.”
The team welcome Spartans to Oriam this Sunday, kick-off at 2pm, tickets can be purchased by clicking here.
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