Jamie Walker hailed the depth in the Hearts squad, as a double switch from Robbie Neilson proved crucial in securing a huge 3-2 victory for Hearts in Saturday’s game with Livingston.
Having been pegged back by a Craig Sives goal, the head coach introduced Billy King - after Kenny Anderson had come on at the break - and his impact was immediate, setting up Anderson for a diving header before playing through Walker to seal the points.
After the match, Walker admitted the team could sense the supporters getting a bit agitated, but revealed they put it to the back of their minds as they focused on the task at hand.
“We could sense the fans were getting a bit anxious, but when we got the goal it was a weight off our shoulders, we managed to blank it out,” said the Scotland U21 star. “Billy and Kenny made a great impact, so it shows the depth we have in our squad.”
In a highly physical encounter, the home side had six players booked in the first half alone, and forced Sam Nicholson off the pitch with a head wound. Walker stated that the team had been briefed about this ahead of the game, and that the head coach re-affirmed what they had to do during the interval.
“The last time we played here, Livingston made it really difficult for us so we expected a hard game, but our quality showed in the end. By the time I scored it was just relief.
“They made it physical, and there were some rough challenges like the one on Sam. The gaffer told us at half-time to fight and battle for the win.
“We can mix it up if we need to, we don’t just do pretty football, we’ll do what we have to in order to win. “
Finally, the victory put Hearts onto 60 points for the season, with a 19 point lead over Rangers who were on Scottish Cup duty this weekend, losing to Raith Rovers. Although happy with the gap between the sides, Walker insisted the team would not rest on their laurels as the gap could be narrowed.
“We’d prefer to have the points on the board. 19 points is a good lead but it could also be 10, so we have to win every game, focus on ourselves and if we do, it doesn’t matter what anyone else does."