There was loads of positives – Steven Naismith hails Hearts display at Airdrie

By Sports Desk February 11, 2024

Steven Naismith was delighted at his side’s performance as they powered to the last eight of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup with a 4-1 thumping of Airdire.

Hearts raced into a three-goal lead with just 21 minutes on the clock after goals from Lawrence Shankland, Kenneth Vargas and Calem Nieuwenhof had them on easy street.

Adam Frizzell restored some hope for the hosts, though that would be extinguished when Shankland dinked home his 24th goal of the season with 17 minutes remaining.

“It was a really good performance, we scored early goals, scored four goals and it’s a comfortable night,” Naismith said.

“On top of that, the detail that we’d worked on, nearly all of it was right and the players executed it brilliantly.

“There was loads of positives. I’d say we’re still a good bit away, we could be more clinical and in some moments I think when it went 3-0 we picked the wrong option and were forcing it.”

Hearts will now travel to Morton in the quarter-finals, hoping to reach Hampden for the second time this season having already made the semi-final of the Viaplay Cup.

Dougie Imrie’s cinch Championship side shocked Motherwell to book their place in the next round, and Naismith is anticipating a tough encounter.

“Everybody in the last eight thinks they have a chance,” he added.

“Our tie away to Morton, people will think we are favourites, but think there’s a potential upset there.

“I think if we’re not at it then it’ll be a really difficult game, they’ve shown on Friday that they are a good team and are in form.

“We want to go as far as we can, one of the games this season that is disappointing is the semi-final in the last cup – we want to get to the semi-final and do well this time.”

Despite a night filled with positives for the Tynecastle side, there was one major disappointment as Craig Halkett limped off after 25 minutes.

Halkett had only recently returned from a year long lay-off with a ruptured ACL, though Naismith is hopeful the defender will make a speedy recovery.

“It’s just something with his knee, it doesn’t seem to be major but we don’t know at the moment,” he explained.

“We’ll just have to wait and see, at that moment in the game there wasn’t any major risk to continue on.”

Airdrie boss Rhys McCabe felt his side were competitive against their Premiership opponents, despite coming out on the end of a comprehensive defeat.

“I thought for large parts of the first half we were competitive,” McCabe said.

“We started the game really well with intent and didn’t sit off the game as probably a lot of smaller clubs would do against a big club like Hearts.

“You give a player the quality of Lawrence Shankland three or four opportunities then he’s bound to take one or two.

“There are loads of positives going around this club, yes we lost the game and are disappointed, but we’ve just come up from League One through the play-offs, got into the last 16 of the Scottish Cup and have the final of the Challenge Cup against The New Saints in a couple of weeks’ time.”

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