First Team

Happy to help

1st September 2014

James Keatings admits he left his shooting boots at home on Saturday but reveals pleasure in playing his part as Hearts thrash Falkirk at Tynecastle.

It could have been a day to forget for James Keatings, as the striker missed a penalty and failed to get on the scoresheet in Saturday's match with Falkirk.

Instead, he put his disappointments behind him to play a starring role as Hearts routed the visitors in front of a sold-out Tynecastle.

Freely admitting he should have scored at least once, the summer signing from Hamilton Accies found an inspired Jamie MacDonald in the Bairns net.

Despite MacDonald's heroics, however, Hearts managed to get on the scoresheet four times through Jordan McGhee, an Osman Sow penalty and a double from Billy King, with Botti Bia-Bi nabbing a consolation goal late on.

After the game, James reflected on a sensational team performance but conceded that he should have made the scoreline that much more impressive looking.

"I thought we played really good football at times", he said. "The boys from back to front linked up brilliantly especially in the first half, which is what we work on every day so it's pleasing to see that come off for us.

"It just wasn't my day today. I think I had five shots on goal, and I obviously missed the penalty and the follow-up shot, so I'm disappointed. More in myself, than anything. I could have had 10 shots and not scored today.

"I shook hands with Jamie after the game. I had to, he saved so many shots of mine! I did have the chance to take the second penalty but I turned my back on it. Osman won it and he took the ball, so I thought it was fair enough that he took it.

"I managed an assist for Billy, though, so that's another part of the game that I can be happy with. Helping your teammates is more important that anything else, so I'm not going to be too down about it."

The Jambos are winning rave reviews from the supporters and the media for their swashbuckling brand of attacking football, something Keatings is rightly pleased about, given the hard work Robbie Neilson and his coaching team have put in during training throughout this season so far with the team.

"We work in training on our link-up play in depth", James revealed. "The gaffer has new ideas he wants us to try every day when we're out there, and hopefully they can all click quickly so we can take them out onto the pitch and get better each week.

"The boys are really happy right now. We're all enjoying our training, and our football. It's the best thing in the world to jump out of bed, knowing you've got football to look forward to, because it can be the opposite at times - but it isn't like that at Hearts.

"We're trying to play a good type of football, one and two touch passing, pressing high up the park. When we lose the ball, we hunt it down as quickly as possible, especially in higher parts of the pitch. If you win it back there, you'll make more chances.

Saturday also presented the first showing of Keatings and Sow as a potential pairing for the Jambos in the frontline. Despite both being at the club for months, James let slip that he and the Swede had only played together briefly before Saturday, making their performances that much more impressive.

"I think our styles compliment each other", he explained. "Osman holds the ball up and I make runs to create space for him. I'd only trained alongside him once before the game today, so with game time we'll learn more about each other and improve.

Finally, the former Celtic youth star paid tribute to the Heart of Midlothian support who packed Tynecastle to create yet another memorable occasion down Gorgie way, and who were rewarded with a fine display of football to send them all home delighted,

"The crowd was magnificent. We sold out today, I think, or as good as did. The fans are just brilliant here, they've been magic with me and with the whole team. When they get behind us, it inspires us to play well for them, so we have to say thanks."