MacDonald rallies Jambos juniors

Jamie MacDonald has told the Hearts' youngsters to keep up their high standards for the Scottish Communities League Cup Final.

Last Updated: 27/01/13 at 13:22 Post Comment   

MacDonald: Impressed by the young Hearts team

MacDonald: Impressed by the young Hearts team

Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald has told the club's junior Jambos they will have to keep up their high standards if they want to feature in the Scottish Communities League Cup Final.

Tynecastle boss John McGlynn named seven players aged 21 or younger in the semi-final victory over Inverness at Easter Road.

On-loan Liverpool striker Michael Ngoo was among that fresh-faced group and he can certainly expect to feature in the Hampden final in March after a bullish display on his debut, just 24 hours after moving north from Anfield.

The 20-year-old made a fantastic first impression as he fired home a terrific volley to cancel out Andrew Shinnie's opener for the Highlanders in the 1-1 draw that was only settled by a 5-4 penalty shoot-out success for the Edinburgh side in Leith.

Now MacDonald has told the others - Fraser Mullen, Danny Wilson, Jason Holt, Callum Tapping, Scott Robinson and Jamie Walker - who shone against Caley to continue playing like they are if they want to feature in the showpiece decider in Glasgow in six weeks' time.

He said: "The young boys were fantastic. Not only with their work rate but at times we tried to play some football, some nice one-twos.

"The three boys in the middle of the park - Callum, Scott and Jason - were great and we also had Michael coming in too. He was fantastic. He only arrived on Friday but held the ball up, laid it off, won things in the air and scored a fantastic goal.

"Now it is up to those lads to stay in the team until the final. They have set a standard now. They need to maintain that if they want to keep their spot.

"We have other good young boys coming through who will want their shot. The lads who played against Inverness will need to fight to keep hold of their jerseys."

On-loan Arsenal midfielder Philip Roberts was the first player to blink from either side as he blazed the 10th kick of the shoot-out high over MacDonald's bar.

The former Scotland Under-21 keeper had not come close to saving any of the four previous penalties he had faced but did produce two vital saves in the 120 minutes that had preceded Roberts' rush of blood to the head.

First he won a game of chicken with 20-goal Inverness striker Billy McKay when he dived to his left to save after the Northern Irishman had be sent clean through on goal.

Then he was able to race back into position to block from Shinnie after McKay, obviously still shaken by his earlier miss, refused to try and tap home with just Hearts skipper Marius Zaliukas guarding the goal and opted to pass instead.

MacDonald said: "Billy McKay and Andrew Shinnie have scored a barrel load of goals this year and we knew that coming in. They are dangerous players.

"With Billy's chance I just had to stand and wait and try and react to his shot. Thankfully I got down and got a good hand on it.

"There was another chance in extra time too. I thought it was miles off-side to start with but the ball then got caught under Billy's feet and that gave us the chance to get back in and regroup.

"Thankfully I was able to get back in and make a save to keep it at 1-1 and we were able to go on and win on penalties."

MacDonald may not have laid a glove on Roberts decisive spot-kick miss but he was happy to take the acclaim of his team-mates after borrowing a tactic used by England stopper Joe Hart in last summer's Euro 2012 shoot-out defeat to Italy.

He explained: "It's great, everyone still comes to me even though I never did anything. Usually the lads are shouting at me so that was nice.

"Did I try and put Philips off? I just started shouting at him. I just started screaming. I don't know if he heard me, but it seemed to work. Why not? I saw Joe Hart doing it once and thought I'd give it a bash."


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