Hearts will rue Betfred defeat to Alloa after Scottish Cup Final heroics says BBC pundit
Michael Stewart believes Hearts have shown they have the capabilities to win the SPFL Championship – and there’s ‘a bright future ahead’ for Robbie Neilson’s team.
However, that’s all the more reason defeat at part-time Alloa in the Betfred Cup last month will sting even more, because Stewart tipped Hearts to be a strong cup team this season as well as for a return to the top league next term.
The former Hearts midfielder and Scotland national team boss Shelley Kerr were full of praise for Robbie Neilson’s after their penalty shoot-out defeat to Celtic in the William Hill Scottish Cup final and Stewart said they will use the disappointment as a positive for the remainder of the season.
He said: “They should have more than enough for the Championship but it’s disappointing to look at the cup defeat at Alloa when you look how far they pushed Celtic.
"The Betfred and this season’s Scottish Cup would be a good chance to showcase what they’re still capable of. They’ve done that today and the sooner they get back up to the Premiership the better because this is a side with a bright future ahead of them.”
Neilson’s side forced Celtic to penalties despite trailing 2-0 at half-time and falling 3-2 behind in extra-time to Leigh Griffiths’ goal.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s coverage of the 2020 cup final women’s boss Kerr added: “They’ll be absolutely gutted.
"Hearts had more than set-plays in their locker in the second half and you’ve got to give them a lot of credit , they were very unfortunate.
"Their main bread and butter is getting back to the Premiership but I tell you what, what a big performance the second half and through extra-time. They were unfortunate in penalties.”
Stewart added: “It’s gut-wrenching for Hearts. The turning point came when Stephen Kingsley misses the penalty and young Hazard saves it and it ebbs away from them from that point.
"Celtic have got to use this as a springboard to propel them forward and Hearts should use this as a positive for the rest of the season too.”