First Team

Craig: Uche shows class yet again

28th April 2019

Craig Levein heaped praise on Uche Ikpeazu as the English striker scored a late leveller against Hibs in the final Edinburgh derby of the season.

After giving away a penalty - which was missed - the big forward showed composure to slot away Steven MacLean's cut back and in doing so, sent the travelling Hearts' fans into the raptures.

“Uche always enjoys his moment," the gaffer said. "I think that’s eight goals for the season now and he missed four-and-a-half months, so all credit to him. 

“He gets a bit of criticism and treatment because he’s different, but he’s quite a strong character and he has a lot of belief in himself, shows his character and he thrives on scoring because he feels he gets judged on goals."

The match also saw a full league debut given to 17-year-old Connor Smith, with Ryan Edwards coming off the bench to make his competitive debut ten months after signing.

“Since Ryan came back from St Mirren he’s had to wait. I feel we’re strong in midfield but to be fair he’s worked really hard in training and the reserves, and with playing Connor Smith today, I didn’t think he’d last the 90 so when he tired, we could use Ryan. He didn’t do himself any harm.”

The manager also praised Connor Smith, who - in a baptism of fire - played excellently before he was replaced.

“The system we started with requires players to run in behind, and that’s what he [Smith] does for the reserves and Scotland. He has huge energy and great technique and for the type of player we needed, we didn’t have anybody else.

"He’s been excellent recently so I felt he could do it today, and he showed enough to tell us he can help us the rest of the season."