James Keatings expressed his delight in getting back on the goal trail as his sizzling volley set Hearts on their way to a fine 4-1 victory over Queen of the South on Saturday.
The summer signing notched his first goal since September as he put a spell on the sidelines behind him to lead the line for the Jambos in their eighth consecutive home win of the league season.
After the match, a tired James admitted he didn’t remember too much of the goal, although he was told it was a “good one”, and revealed a change in strategy that he discussed with skipper Danny Wilson that proved crucial to the opener.
“I’m delighted with every goal I score!”, he said. “The boys have told me it’s a good one but I don’t remember much of it. I remember the knock on from the defender, but that’s about it. I’ll look back at it later and judge it for myself.
“We want to play the ball into the strikers from the midfield. Queens recognised that early, they left a man in the hole between our midfield and attack and it stopped us from playing that way, so I had a word with Danny.
“I wanted him to try and get the ball in behind the defenders and over the top, which worked a few times, but they defended well and it was a really tough match, so we’re just glad to get the win.”
Heading into the festive season, the Jambos face the three sides at the bottom of the league table with away trips to Cowdenbeath and Livingston, as well as welcoming Petrofac Training Cup finalists Alloa Athletic to Tynecastle in the last match before Christmas.
Despite Hearts being looked upon as favourites to take the points in these encounters, the former Hamilton man insisted the players would be taking nothing for granted - citing his own experiences at New Douglas Park last season as proof that nothing is certain in football.
Additionally, while Hearts remain unbeaten in league action this season, James was optimistic that the Jambos players would ignore the hype behind them and focus on one game at a time - a motto shared strongly by head coach Robbie Neilson.
“You can’t just go and expect to get three points in every game”, James explained. “Last season at Hamilton Accies, Alloa took 6 points off us at home, so it just goes to show anything can happen. It’s important that we keep our concentration.”
“We want to go as long as we can without being beaten. We’re showing that we have a strong group of players, we’re a close unit - we talk all the time during the week, texting, chatting about how much we want to win.”
Finally, the striker told HeartsTV that he was fortunate to even make the game at all on Saturday, having been struck down with a winter vomiting bug, but reassured the supporters that he’d be much better by next weekend’s match at Central Park.
“I had a wee bout of sickness in training yesterday. I was totally exhausted in the second half, and my legs were starting to go. I think I’ve picked up a wee bug but that can happen at this time of the year. I had nothing left at the end of the game so I had to come off, but hopefully next week I’ll be 100%.”