Hearts striker Kyle Lafferty insists he and his team-mates owed the supporters some Edinburgh derby cheer after admitting that they have let themselves down against Hibs this season.
The Tynecastle outfit collected their first Premiership win over their capital rivals at the fourth attempt with a 2-1 victory on Wednesday that dashed their Leith counterparts’ hopes of finishing second.
Even though Hearts earned victory in the fixture in January’s Scottish Cup fourth round clash, Northern Ireland internationalist Lafferty insists the performances from the other two losses and goal-less stalemate have not been good enough.
Speaking to the BBC, Lafferty, who took his tally for the campaign to 19 goals with the opener, said: “To get three points against your biggest rivals in the league, it’s important, and we gave the fans something to celebrate.
“We owned the fans something, I don’t think we’ve turned up in other games against Hibs this season.
“We have not performed well enough against Hibs but we put it right. We won every second and first ball, and obviously came away with the three points.
“It’s a nice game to be involved in but to be honest I don’t think I’ve turned up myself in these games.
“I know how much it means to the club and to the fans.
“I probably haven’t been happy with my performances in the derbies so far, but it was last home game and I’m hoping it’s not going to be my last derby for Hearts.”
Lafferty, who saw strike partner Steven Naismith net a second half winner after Flo Kamberi levelled with a penalty, admits watching Hibs, who are 17 points better off than the Gorgie side, go close to clinching a runners-up place has compounded what has been a frustrating season for sixth place Hearts.
He added: “It’s a tough one to take, we’ve always been the team to beat and it’s difficult to take for the fans first and foremost.
“They haven’t had something to shout about but they can go away and enjoy himself.”
Former Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson, meanwhile, insists 17-year-old midfielder Harry Cochrane oozed class in delivering a match-winning performance against Hibs.
As well as winning his battle in the middle of the park against Scotland internationalist John McGinn, Cochrane also crossed for Naismith to head home the decisive goal.
Hearts manager Craig Levein praised the teenager’s contribution after the game and tipped the player to earn Scotland national team recognition in the future.
Neilson said: “There have been a few Hearts players who have been pushed this season due to circumstances but also their ability to come in and play, and Harry is one of them.
“He still lacks that little bit of physicality that will come in the next year or two but from the time I’ve been away to now you can see that he has bulked up and he handled the game no problem.
“He was playing against one of the best midfield players in the country in John McGinn and, yes, the physicality of McGinn at times caused him some problems but with the ball, picking the right pass at the right time, he did fantastically well and he was the one that won the game.
“Naismith got the plaudits, he is the one that put it in the back of the net but his delivery was top class.
“It was absolutely on the money and Steven Naismith could have scored it with his eyes shut to be honest.
“It changed the game again and it gave Hearts that lift.”