First Team

Game of two halves

24th July 2018

Craig Levein admits a frank half-time discussion helped Hearts on their way to a comprehensive 5-0 victory over Cowdenbeath

Craig Levein admitted it was a game of two very different halves after Hearts finally saw off Cowdenbeath in style in tonight’s Betfred Cup encounter.

The first half display from the Jambos lacked fluidity and, against a resolute Blue Brazil defence - not helped by the dismissal of midfielder Martin Scott - saw the scoreline tied 0-0 at the interval.

After a firm reminder of their responsibilities at half time, the team came out all guns blazing and were rewarded with goals from Steven MacLean, Uche Ikpeazu, Peter Haring, Steven Naismith and Michael Smith.

After the match, Craig explained the issue he took with the team’s first half display.

“It was comfortable enough in the end, but it took us a while to get there. The new surface is great, but our passing wasn’t up to scratch.

“Too many passes were played behind people, so we had to stop the play to fetch it and lose momentum. We didn’t move the ball quickly enough to get it into the wide areas and get crosses in.

“Even if Cowdenbeath had had seven men in the first half we still wouldn’t have scored, we moved it so slowly. The second half was so much better in that regard.

“They know what they’re supposed to do. There’s a lot of experienced players in there, but when it isn’t going for you, sometimes you need that halftime break to get the message across to them so they get what they’re supposed to be doing.”

There were goals on their Tynecastle bows for three of the summer signings and Craig revealed his hope that their maiden strikes in Gorgie would do wonders for the striking pair of MacLean and the impressive Ikpeazu, named man of the match after coming on as a substitute.

“It will do Steven and Uche a lot of good to score. I was a defender so never took much confidence from getting goals, but strikers thrive on that, so it’ll be good for them. Steven’s experiences but getting a goal at Tynecastle will be a positive and you saw what it meant to Uche to score.”

Lastly, Craig explained it was imperative the team have their qualification chances in their own hands and, with a better goal difference than Inverness, go into Sunday’s final group game with their fate in their own hands. 

“We wanted to put ourselves in the position where we didn’t need to rely on goal difference, but we still need to beat Inverness. It’s not going to be an easy task, and we need to play very much like we did in the second half tonight and nothing like the first.”