Dethroned last year by the Dons, this home match against Barry Robson’s men was an opportunity to remind them of their intentions. Hearts have not lost to Aberdeen at home since 2017 and never looked in any danger of not extending that run to 11 matches in front of a packed Tynecastle. As soon as Yutaro Oda’s deflected effort made it 1-0 just 14 minutes into the match, there was little chance of Hearts being pegged back. Liam Boyce doubled the advantage just after the hour mark and they saw out the match cosily.
The importance of victory cannot be overstated. Signs of disgruntlement had been evident in the Hearts support. Steven Naismith, back as the main man since being rebranded head coach during the international break, needed a win and a strong performance to silence dissenters. From back to front, Hearts were superior, with Kent and his fellow centre-half Kye Rowles keeping Aberdeen’s much-vaunted attack quiet.
“It was nice to get a win and a clean sheet, we needed it because we had to show a reaction to what happened before the break,” said Kent. “It was a good performance all round. It was good from start to finish, we played with a high intensity and had our game plan. We knew what threats they had because they are a good team and I think our energy showed today. We showed that we are fighting for everything, we closed down the ball well, won our duels and our tackles. But we also had the calmness to implement what we wanted to do to hurt them. I think that was a big factor.
Given Aberdeen are likely to be one of their main rivals this season despite their own poor start to the league campaign, Kent knows the importance of the result. “Can this be a statement performance? I think so,” he continued. “It’s still the start of the season and we need to improve on a lot of things but there were a lot of positives to take. We still have to get better at things and are learning what we need to improve on but it’s good and everyone is happy with how we played. We need to get consistency and a run of games, nobody is getting carried away because we need to build on it now. We have to do it again next week [against St Mirren] so this week we’ll rest up and hopefully do the same next week.”
Kent was asked if the Dons’ travails – and their upcoming European distractions – will spur Hearts on. Kent is keen to keep it all on his own team. “We have to just focus on ourselves and can’t think about anyone else,” the ex-Peterborough man said. “Personally, I won’t be looking at what Aberdeen are doing. I’ll just focus on what we’re doing, focus on my performances and everything else will follow on from that.”
Another week of training under Naismith looms, although Kent is adamant it is status quo after Frankie McAvoy returned to his assistant role. “Nothing has changed with the manager, it’s exactly the same,” Kent added. “We had the time off during the international break and we knew things hadn’t been good enough. We worked on stuff during the break and re-evaluated what we need to do and get back to. We’d shown it in glimpses at the start of the season but not enough. The Aberdeen game was back to what we need to produce."