Hearts 1-1 Greenock Morton

A fine Jamie Walker header after 71 minutes finally gave his side the breakthrough as a labouring Hearts came from behind despite dominating against Greenock Morton at Tynecastle.

Whilst sitting tidily at the summit of the Championship with ten games to go, Robbie Neilson’s Jambos are struggling to inspire much confidence in the maroon support with a series of games failing to live-up to the desired tempo and style demanded.

Substitute Walker landed his 50th goal for Hearts, the first player to do so since Colin Cameron, and his third of the season against the visitors, having bagged a brace earlier in the campaign in a 2-0 win back in December. Craig McGuffie had given the visitors the lead on just under ten minutes into the second half with a very fine rifled shot past Craig Gordon on the counter-attack.

Hearts huffed and puffed throughout the 90 minutes but failed to really create many clear cut chances or lay siege to the Morton goal as may have been expected. The home clash was seen as a prime opportunity for the JTs to get back on track and make amends for last Friday’s dreary and limp draw away at Queen of the South. However, the lack of rapier in front of goal was again the real kicker with only five shots on target despite a mighty 26 efforts in total.

On paper, Neilson has a strong squad. However, the reality seems to be a team of individuals who he and his backroom team are struggling to get a tune out of. Indeed, this is a side with an enviable player budget and training facilities within the context of the whole of Scottish football, not just the Championship.

One counter theory, albeit tough to reconcile in the fervour of impotent performances and dull results, is that the lack of fans is to the Jambos’ detriment – either for their vocal backing or audible rollicking – in terms of lifting the pace and forcing the issue. Too many times it seems players are going through the motions and lacking the imperative to gamble, make a decisive run or pull the trigger. With a league title looking likely, the question on many fans’ lips is how is Neilson building for next season’s Premiership assault?

In a season, given the summer ‘demotion’ turmoil and COVID-19 restrictions, that may well have been one to skip assuming a swift promotion, Hearts now have a run of three games that could prove pivotal in jolting this malaise and adding some sheen to a campaign that may now be becoming more forgetful for the football on offer. A trip next Friday evening to face John Robertson’s Inverness is followed by two home games against Dundee and Ayr United respectively.

Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Popescu, Halkett, Kingsley, McEneff, Halliday (Walker, 62 mins), Kastaneer (Gnanduillet, 56 mins), Naismith, Mackay-Steven (Irving, 87 mins), Boyce Subs not used: Haring, Berra, Stewart, Henderson

Greenock Morton: McAdams, Ledger, McLean, McGinty, Strapp, Jacobs, Blues, McGuffie (Muirhead, 62 mins), Nesbitt, Colville (Lyon, 90 mins), Salkeld (Orsi, 72 mins) Subs not used: Fjørtoft, Oliver, Sterling, Johnson

Referee: David Dickinson

All photos Ian Jacobs