It was an excellent day out for Steven Naismith and his squad as they finished their cinch Premiership match against Aberdeen with the vital three points.
The 22-year-old Japanese forward opened up the scoring in the 14th minute but his time on the pitch was over not long after following an injury. Boyce then doubled Hearts’ lead in the second-half after Calem Nieuwenhof brought up the ball to the box.
After a string of disappointing performances, it feels Hearts’ season could be turning around after both Yutaro Oda and Liam Boyce found the back of the net at Tynecastle on Saturday (16 September) with the Jambos boss calling it a “collective” performance with the “defensive set-up back to where we expect it to be.”
One of those defensive stars was the Australian international Kye Rowles who produced one of his personal best performances for the Jambos and is now looking forward to making this a regular occurance.
Speaking exclusively to Edinburgh News, the 25-year-old defender said: “I think everyone came to play today. From the first minute, it felt like a really positive environment to be around today and in the end it was a great result.
“I think in the league (the defence) have been really solid this year. Really compact, nice and solid defending, but today was really good from everyone - everyone was aggressive and on the front foot in the right areas. It was just a really positive performance.
“Yeah it’s up there in one of my better performances. Definitely this year it’s my best performance. I am just looking to build on that. I want that to be a more consistent thing and that means I can contribute positive things to the team.”
Before his time on the grass ended in such a disappointing manner, Oda had been one of the stand-out stars of the show and Rowles said of his teammate: “It’s a shame we only got 30 out of him, it just shows how lightning he is in attack and he’s very important to the team.
“He can hit a ball pretty hard as well, which is what the goal was . I’m stoked for him. Hopefully whatever happened to him is not that bad. It was great to get off to a good start and really stamp our authority on the game early.”
However, several of the game’s key moments were marked by the four yellow cards Hearts’ players received. Peter Haring was the first to be handed the card, seeing the yellow sign within ten minutes, and appearing to do his best to receive another before he was taken out of the action shortly into the second-half.
Frankie Kent and Liam Boyce, though, managed to receive their yellow cards within two minutes of each in a period of play that saw Hearts quickly lose their composure, firing up at the wrong moments. Aberdeen were far from innocent but they appeared to receive just two cards compared to the Jambos’ four with the Tynecastle faithful quick to call-out the referee on his decisions.
Speaking about the calls and flurry of cards the ref handed out, Rowles carefully commented: “It’s not really my place to comment. I don’t really have much to complain about to be honest. Every game you might get a call you might not. You just take it as it comes.
“Once we went 1-0 up it kind of got a bit fiery and both sides - maybe that would be my only complaint, they could have had a few more bookings. It felt like we were getting carded left, right and centre. But in the second half we calmed down, really got our heads on and completed the job.”
With three points in hand, Hearts now prepare to face St Mirren who currently sit second in the league following three wins and two draws from their opening five matches. Ahead of Saturday’s clash at the Paisley 2021 Stadium, Rowles said: “You can always get better no matter what. Even defensively, we were solid today but there’s still little areas that we will look at on the tape to get better at.
“We definitely want to focus on the ball and playing attacking football. We potentially might have a lot of the ball next week so that’s an area we can look at to get ready for the game next weekend.”
It’s also only three matchdays away from the first Edinburgh derby of the year where Rowles is set to come up against his former Central Coast Mariners boss Nick Montgomery. However, it’s very much one game at a time for the Australian defender who has said, while he looks forward to seeing a familiar face, there won’t be any niceties until the final whistle goes.
“It’ll be good - an old face. I might give him a wave or something but there won’t be pleasantries before the game or during it. But hopefully we can get the job done, we’re taking it one game at a time at the moment. I won’t worry about it now - but definitely in the matchweek I’ll throw a few hints out there.”