Steven Naismith was delighted to banish Hearts’ “incredible” wait of almost two years to record three consecutive league wins.
The Jambos eked out a 1-0 victory at home to St Johnstone, following up the triumphs over Motherwell and Livingston prior to the international break.
It is the first time that they have managed to collected nine points from a possible nine since they defeated Dundee and Ross County in December 2021 and then St Johnstone the following month, and now Naismith wants his team to maintain the consistency.
“A stat which I worked out earlier in the week which is incredible is that we hadn’t won three league games in a row since January 2022,” he said. “It’s an incredible stat for a club like Hearts.
“We have done that today and we have now got to use that. As I said last week and the week before, we need to be consistent in keeping clean sheets, making chances, getting goals and winning games. So it’s been a good afternoon. The biggest gripe is probably that we’ve not scored more goals.”
The only goal of the game came in the 61st minute came when Liam Boyce steered an effort towards goal, although it flicked off Lawrence Shankland on its way into the net, and the Scotland forward appears to have been credited with his 11th club goal of the season.
“I think it’s Shanks who has been fortunate,” said Naismith when asked to clear up the confusion about who scored the goal. “Boyce has done all the leg work and it’s a controlled finish, and then it’s come off Shanks’ calf and goes in. Shanks is certainly claiming it.
“By the time we made it into the changing room everyone had given it to Shanks.”
Naismith was baffled that Hearts were not awarded a first-half penalty when Alan Forrest went down under a challenge from Luke Robinson.
“It’s a penalty all day long, but are referees refereeing the game differently now because they’re thinking VAR might step in, but if it doesn’t hit the threshold for clean and obvious it’s not given?” mused Naismith. “It’s a penalty, no debate about it.”
Recently-appointed St Johnstone boss Craig Levein was encouraged by his team’s display but joked that he was disappointed he did not get a more hostile reception from the Hearts supporters.
The 59-year-old spent a huge chunk of his career at Tynecastle as a player, director of football and two-time manager, before he was sacked four years ago.
“I was expecting to get a little bit of stick but it didn’t really materialise,” he laughed. “I was a wee bit disappointed. I need to have a word with the Hearts fans about that!”
Reflecting on the match, Levein added: “We were in the game at all times even after the goal, but what do you do with Boyce and Shankland if they get a chance? We tried to stop them getting chances and that was one of the things I was really pleased about.
“Apart from that opportunity we restricted them to very little but they’re just so good at putting the ball in the back of the net. We fell foul to that today.”