Hearts V Ross County at Tynecastle Stadium : Match Preview

22 November 2013 06:01
Hearts V Ross County - view commentary, squad, and statistics of the game live.

Paterson looks to maintain momentum

Callum Paterson surprised himself and his Hearts team-mates with his acrobatic goal for Scotland under-21s last week but is hoping he can take the boost from it into Saturday's Scottish Premiership game against Ross County at Tynecastle.

The 19-year-old came on as a substitute at St Mirren Park to grab a spectacular late equaliser in the 1-1 draw against Georgia in the European Under-21 Championship qualifier.

It came on the back of his goal for the Jambos in their 3-1 win over Aberdeen at Pittodrie and the versatile youngster is looking for his good fortune to continue against the Staggies as Hearts try to keep survival hopes alive.

Paterson said: "We were working on set-pieces throughout the week and I wasn't meant to be anywhere near the ball to be honest, I was meant to be blocking the runner.

"It just came to me and instead of using my head, I thought I would go with my foot and I pulled it off.

"My team mates didn't know how I did it. I hadn't done it before so they were surprised.

"Hopefully I can keep that confidence going.

"Obviously it is great to be involved in your country at any level, especially the under-21s.

"It is more important to take the form back into the club situation and try to help the club.

"Hopefully we can get the three points at the weekend, we really need them."

The Gorgie club started the season with minus-15 points after going into administration and have whittled it away to minus-four, although they would have been closer to their first target - zero points - if they had held out against the Staggies in September.

The Hearts players are still smarting from the 2-1 defeat in Dingwall when two late goals from the home side gave them a win that was looking unlikely.

Paterson said: "It was a bit of a weird game at Ross County, 1-0 up until the 89th minute and they scored two goals.

"If we can try to reproduce the first 89 minutes and work on the last few minutes at the end of the game, we should be all right.

"Of course it was (sore to take), 1-0 up and doing pretty well at that time of the season as well.

"That stopped our form a wee bit but hopefully we can react better this weekend.

"The Aberdeen game gave us a massive boost.

"We have been off for a week with international break but the confidence is still there and hopefully we can do well again.

"We are focusing on getting back to zero points, as quickly as possible. We need to keep pushing.

"Hopefully in the next two or three games we should be back to zero and that would be a massive boost to everybody at the club."

Hearts have no fresh injuries. The international break has allowed, bumps, bruises and niggles within the Jambos' squad to heal. Midfielder Jason Holt is the only absentee with a metatarsal injury.

County manager Derek Adams knows he will face a Hearts side fired up by their predicament but he insists his own players constantly have to defy the odds.

Administration-hit Hearts go into the game 12 points adrift in the Scottish Premiership but Gary Locke's team have been boosted by their win at Aberdeen before the international break and are determined to further eat into their 15-point penalty.

However, Adams pointed out he has his own battles to fight in Dingwall. County finished fifth in the league last season with probably the smallest wage bill in the top flight and Adams had to rebuild his squad in the summer following a number of departures.

Adams said: "We've got a plight here every week. We are probably not in as good a financial position as Hearts are.

"That might sound stupid but they have probably got a bigger wage bill than I have.

"But we have just got to get on with that. We want to move up the league table this season."

Tynecastle was unusually flat when Hearts last played there, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat by St Johnstone that left them back where they started the season, 15 points behind.

But the win over Aberdeen has given fans renewed hope that their team can pull off the great escape.

Adams said: "When you look at the backing they had here, I think they took about 1,000 fans, they were so loud it was unbelievable. They really supported their team that day.

"They get a good following and we will have to deal with that and use that.

"We have done that before when we have gone to Celtic Park and Easter Road and used that atmosphere to help ourselves."

Adams is without at least three players for the trip. Defender Steven Saunders and winger Ivan Sproule are suspended following their red cards against St Mirren while left-back Ben Gordon misses out with an ankle injury.

Adams also has a couple of other unnamed fitness concerns which he will assess before the game.

Source: PA