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Hearts building a ‘hunger to win trophies’, says Steven Naismith

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 11 Mar 2024

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Hearts head coach Steven Naismith believes their recent progress and hunger for trophies will give them a chance against Rangers at Hampden after his side booked a Scottish Gas Scottish Cup semi-final place with a 1-0 win over Morton at Cappielow.

Naismith’s side were immediately handed a repeat of their Viaplay Cup semi-final, which Rangers won 3-1 in November, in the draw for the last four.

Hearts are looking to reach their fourth Scottish Cup final in six years, but Naismith and his players are determined to go one better and seal their first triumph in the tournament since 2012.

Naismith said: “Fortunately we have been in a semi-final before this season so we have got to use that. And we will look forward to it, you work hard to get through the rounds to get to the latter stages.

“We have had a good bit of progression since the last semi-final, we want to progress again and give ourselves a chance to win it.

“You have got to have that demand and hunger to win trophies and we are building that, so hopefully we can have a good day.”

Naismith’s side survived some pressure at Cappielow and advanced thanks to an angled drive from Kenneth Vargas in the 86th minute.

“Coming away from home at probably one of the toughest grounds you will go to, we know what it was going to be like,” he said.

“It was about taking the emotion out of the game and having a clear picture out of possession when they are going to be a bit direct – every throw-in, corner, set-play was going to get a reaction from the crowd. It was about understanding that and not panicking, which I thought we did really well.

“We should have scored earlier, but the key was patience. Our control of the ball, especially the second half, was really good, which ultimately led to three or four good chances.”

Hearts needed goalkeeper Craig Gordon to be at his best and the 41-year-old made three impressive saves to keep his first clean sheet since recovering from a double leg break.

“I’ve said it all along, he’s back to where he was before,” Naismith said. “He’s worked really hard, got a drive and his experience in coming for balls and taking the pressure off is invaluable. But it is brilliant to have two great goalies.”

Morton manager Dougie Imrie felt his side deserved to be heading to Hampden.

Imrie said: “I stand here extremely proud of them. At times we went toe to toe with a top Premiership team.

“They will know themselves they are lucky to be in the semi-finals. I thought we deserved to be in there, but unfortunately we just fell short.”

Morton’s focus now turns to staying in the cinch Championship’s top four and sealing a play-off place.

“We are in a great position,” Imrie said. “We have a tough game on Saturday away at Partick, but after that we’ve got two or three games on the bounce at home and we have to take advantage of that.”

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