Sixteen-year-old Harry Cochrane was singled out for praise by his manager after he came off the bench at half-time as Hearts emerged with a 1-0 victory in their “war of attrition” with St Johnstone.
With a raft of injuries in midfield and a suspension to Connor Randall, Hearts went into the match light in the centre of the park though were able to welcome back Ross Callachan to play alongside Prince Bauben. Cochrane, who’d started the week before, dropped to the bench.
While Bauben completed the vast majority of his passes, as the footage shows, most of them were safe – backwards towards the one of the centre-backs, or a square balls to full-back Jamie Brandon – and he was ponderous in possession. He rarely received the ball in the opposition half and was reluctant to drive forward with it.
After being introduced at half-time, Cochrane started in much the same fashion as the man he replaced and went on to attempt fewer passes. However, he soon started having more of an impact on the game. Even the way he received the ball was more positive and made him much better placed to influence proceedings with a higher percentage of forward passes.
And, even though fortuitous – both in the sense of how the ball found its way to goalscorer Kyle Lafferty, and in how it found its way into the net – it was created by Cochrane getting into the opposition half and having a strike at goal, and he later almost capped an excellent performance with a goal of his own.
“Harry was really good,” said Levein after the match. “He’s really young, he’s really weak, he’s really inexperienced, but he’s a good player.
“In all honesty, like most kids who get opportunities, if Arnaud Djoum was 100 per cent fit and Don Cowie was fit then he might not have played.
“Although he’s young, he’s probably the next best player we’ve got. That’s why he plays. He wouldn’t be in the team if I thought he was scared.”
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By Craig Cairns