Football - Locke happy with players' response

Hearts manager Gary Locke feels his young players answered the critics with their performance in the 2-1 victory over Aberdeen at Tynecastle.

PA Sport
Football - Locke happy with players' response

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Gary Locke has been impressed by his youngsters

Hearts bounced back from Kevin McHattie's sending-off midway through the second half to claim an unlikely three points when 17-year-old substitute Jordan McGhee, who had replaced the concussed Brad McKay, headed home at the back post after Dons goalkeeper Nicky Weaver had missed a Callum Tapping free-kick.

Hearts have now taken seven points off their 15-point penalty for going into administration, a return bettered only by Scottish Premiership leaders Inverness.

And Locke feels his team deserve more praise.

"I'm delighted with the performance," he told Hearts TV.

"Some people have said we have won games and not played that great.

"I think we showed we can pass the ball and our young players are certainly rising to the challenge."

Locke added: "Our target at the start of the season was to get to zero points as quickly as possible.

"It's important we don't get carried away. It's a good win at home and it keeps a bit of momentum going, which I'm delighted with.

"But it's just another three points, we are still eight points off zero.

"It's important we keep our feet on the ground and keep working like that, and if we can do that then hopefully we can win a few games."

Hearts took the lead in the 17th minute when Jason Holt fed Jamie Walker on the counter-attack and the midfielder added to his equaliser against Partick Thistle the previous week by turning inside and firing into the bottom corner.

But Aberdeen were left to count the cost of a number of squandered first-half chances, notably from Scott Vernon, who was played through on goal three times.

Niall McGinn levelled from the spot after referee Alan Muir controversially judged McHattie to have taken down Calvin Zola, but Hearts gave as good as they got in the final quarter before surviving a desperate five minutes of injury-time.

Aberdeen winger Jonny Hayes told RedTV: "The gaffer said it wasn't good enough. We know ourselves it wasn't good enough.

"We created chances and played well at times. Lapses of concentration have probably cost us, a counter-attack goal and a set piece. We don't expect to concede those sort of goals."

Hayes added: "The belief is there in the dressing room. I know at times last season we created a lot of chances and it felt like we could have been there all day.

"But it's different this time round, we felt we were kind of waiting for the goal to happen.

"I know it came from a penalty but even after that we felt like we were going to win the game. Even after their goal we had a couple of chances."

Meanwhile, the Irishman defended Peter Pawlett after the winger was booked for diving when he went down under Walker's challenge in the box. Pawlett has previously received several bookings and Scottish Football Association bans for simulation.

Hayes said: "Peter's one was a definite penalty. We have seen the replays of that.

"Unfortunately it was just the way Pete goes down.

"People have labelled him a diver in the past but he's not that. He wants to stay on his feet.

"If people take you out - the lad has come in with a rash challenge - you have no choice but to go down, you can't stay on your feet.

"I think maybe having a ban or two before has hindered the referee's opinion in that circumstance."

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