After netting his fourth opening goal in as many games, James Keatings has now become Hearts’ joint top goalscorer this season.
Despite missing a penalty and a back post tap-in, the diminutive forward nevertheless atoned for his error by volleying in Billy King’s cutback to give the Jambos a vital 1-0 victory in Saturday’s clash with Livingston.
The summer signing from Hamilton Accies revealed his determination not to let his early setbacks get to him, as he chatted to the media in the aftermath of the match at the Energy Assets Arena in West Lothian.
“Scoring is what I was brought here to do,” said James. “Four goals in four games is a good record, but I should have more. The chance at the back post and the penalty were unfortunate, it’s just one of those things.
“Last season I scored every penalty I took for Hamilton, I think it was four in total, but I’ve missed both here. I was glad to be able to make up for it with the goal.
“You just need to get it out of your head as quickly as possible. If you let it get to you it’ll affect your game, so I focused on getting into the right positions again because I knew I’d get another chance. I’m off penalties now though, the boys have caned me for the miss, so someone else can get a shot.”
With Rangers suffering a heavy defeat at the hands of Hibs in the televised game earlier in the day, the match presented the opportunity for Hearts to extend their lead further to 15 points.
Although buoyed by the opportunity, Keatings admitted that he wasn’t fussed about what other teams did as long as the Jambos continued to win, in their quest for silverware at the season’s end, and also tried to downplay the potential of the title being all but secured before the second half of the season had even begun
“We don’t care what Rangers and Hibs, or any other teams do. It’s only down to one team, and that’s us, no matter what. If we take care of business, it’s in our hands. We’re focused on winning games, it’s far too early to talk about titles.”
Finally, the Lanarkshire native conceded he was desperate to break his derby duck as this Saturday’s New Year Derby with Hibs rapidly approaches.
The striker hasn’t seen as much action in the Capital clash as he would have liked, but the former Celtic trainee stated that he was desperate to make himself a hero to the Gorgie supporters.
“I hope to start against Hibs, and I’ll give my all if I do,” he said. “I haven’t started a derby yet. I was injured for the last one but I was in the crowd when Ozturk scored, and it was nuts. It was some goal and it shows what the derby means to the fans.
“I got carried away with myself like everybody else did. You want to be part of it. Hopefully on Saturday, I’ll be the one scoring the goal because I want to make the fans celebrate like that.”