|Jim Jefferies believes the 2-0 win over St Johnstone on Saturday indicates the shape of things to come for the Tynecastle club. Jefferies took over at the end of January this year and his first league was a 1-0 defeat at St Johnstone that left the team in the division's bottom half. Jefferies did enough to secure a top six finish for his side and that improvement has continued into this campaign with the win in Perth securing third place in the table. A disputed Kevin Kyle penalty, with St Johnstone arguing there was no intent in the Jamie Adams handball that led to it, followed by an injury time strike from substitute Ryan Stevenson secured a third consecutive league win. Jefferies is now confident they can sustain this form and re-establish themselves as Scotland's third force.
He said: "Last year when I came in it was all about trying to be in the top six, but a club like Hearts should be up there challenging for third. I'm not saying we're going to do it, there's a long way to go and we'll get setbacks, but we're on a run now and showed the 3-0 home defeat to Kilmarnock earlier this month was just a blip. Things aren't going for St Johnstone, their run of results isn't doing them justice, they haven't been getting the breaks, but on our own side it's just finished off a great week. It would have been easy to come up here and switch off, but that never entered our minds."
Nobody was was more delighted with the outcome than Kyle who revealed that his 65th minute penalty was only the latest good thing to happen in his life having recently got engaged to his partner Lynn. Kyle said: "It's been a good week. A week ago last Friday I was at Loch Lomond and got down on one knee and proposed to my missus, so that was the start of it. We've beaten Hibs, Celtic and now St Johnstone, plus I've got a call-up to Scotland in between so I don't think I've had many better weeks in football. Lynn said asking her to marry me took a lot of pressure out of my life, but I don't know about that. My brother-in-law [Adams] was playing for St Johnstone and he was the one who gave away the penalty so I'll have to thank him for that when I get home."
The rutted McDiarmid Park pitch had to pass a 9:30 inspection on Saturday morning and both managers were critical of how its poor condition disrupted the flow of the game. Jefferies said: "Once you're on the pitch it's 10 times worse than it looks, the ball was just killing dead and not bouncing up, passing was hard and it's just a terrible surface to expect a right good game of football from." McInnes holds the surface partly responsible for a number of recent injuries to wide players, the latest of which was a calf problem for midfielder Liam Craig that forced his half-time withdrawal. He added: "The club is doing all it can to get the pitch in better condition. It's a real concern, we can't hide from that. The pitch isn't ideal, but it's not the pitch that's beaten us on his occasion, but a refereeing decision. We need to move on from this, show the same spirit and we'll be fine."