BY ALAN TEMPLE – @CCP_Sport
Conor Sammon confessed to a sense of frustration after seeing the assistant referee’s flag cost him a perfectly good goal against Birkirkara as he desperately searches for his maiden strike in Hearts colours.
However, he remains confident the capital club can finish the job at Tynecastle on Thursday night as he expressed his desire to provide a shot in the arm for Scottish football.
The big Irishman showed quick reactions and superb composure to latch onto a Prince Buaben pass after just three minutes in Malta before slipping the ball beyond goalkeeper Miroslav Kopric.
However, he was adjudged to have strayed into an offside position – a sign of things to come for the Jambos during a 0-0 stalemate, in which they dominated but simply could not find the breakthrough.
Sammon’s disappointment is exacerbated by the fact that he is yet to find the net for the club since joining from Derby in the close season – but he is determined to hit the goal trail in the second leg.
“Straight away I thought it was a good goal but I glanced over quite quickly and I saw the linesman with his flag up,” he rued. “I’ve looked at the video and it’s quite difficult to tell from the footage we have, but I still think I’m onside.
“It is frustrating. You come in wanting to hit the ground running and you want to score as soon as you can.
“It’s just one of those things that sometimes go against you. We kept going but we couldn’t break the deadlock. It would’ve been nice to get that away goal but we have lots of positives to take from the game.
“It’s nice that I did put it away, even though it was given offside. It just gets me into that habit of taking chances. I’m excited for the upcoming games and hopefully I’ll get my first goal.”
Hearts have plenty of cause for optimism following a professional performance in Malta that only lacked an away goal. They dictated the tempo, controlled possession and created a host of chances.
And Sammon is understandably confident that the Jambos can finish the job on Thursday and, in doing so, make some positive headlines for a Scottish club in Europe.
“It would be fantastic for Scottish football if we can keep progressing,” he continued. “Aberdeen won 3-0 [against Ventspils] on Thursday as well, which was a really good result and it is always fantastic to see Scottish sides doing well.
“We want to be one of those teams that goes all the way and we are working really hard towards that.
“Roll on Thursday night and hopefully we will do the business and progress to the next round.”
Indeed, Sammon is visibly relishing his maiden foray into continental competition after failing to sample Europa League football with Derry City during his stint with the Candystripes.
“I joined Derry after they had played in Europe – then they played in Europe after I left! I managed to miss out somehow,” he smiled. “It’s great to come to a club that is playing in Europe and finally experience that.
“It is something you want to be a part of in your career. You look at some of these teams on paper and people might say ‘you are playing a team from Estonia or Malta’ and look down on them.
“But we have been really respectful, we know how good these teams can be and are a aware of what a good opportunity this is. And, now that we are here, we want to keep going.”