Heart of Midlothian – Match Report vs Ross County (22/04/23)

There was a lot at stake going into this Cinch Premiership match. Hearts were looking to get their season back on track by ending their 6 game losing streak. While a win will keep Hearts in the battle for guaranteed European group stage football, for Ross County it would merely help in their battle for survival in the top tier of Scottish football. With only 2 wins in their last 10 games, they are in real danger of dropping down to the championship. The game ended happily for one set of supporters. The Jambos saw their side finally break that losing streak, and come away with a significant 6-1 win that included VAR checks, 2 penalties, and some excellent goals.



  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Alex Cochrane

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: English
  • Age: 23
  • Date of birth: 21/04/2000
  • Club: Heart of Midlothian FC
  • Career: Brighton, Union Saint-Gilloise (Loan), Heart of Midlothian FC (loan then permanent)
  • Position: Left Back/Left Wing Back
  • Preferred foot: Left

Cochrane is everything you could expect from a modern wing back that has been brought through the ranks of an English Premier League side. He’s technically and tactically sound, has high levels of strength, pace, and fitness, and shows the work rate and determination that would have been needed to be in and around both the Brighton first team and England youth national team set up.

At 23 years of age, he plays with a confidence and experience that is beyond his age. In his short career he’s played in a number of different positions. Whilst mostly a left wing back, he’s also played regularly as the left centre back in a back three, a left back in a back four, and even at times in left and centre midfield. Today, he was playing in what was on paper a left back position, but in reality was much more complex.

He played as if he was given complete freedom to roam. He’d occasionally be pulled into a left back position, would constantly be pushing to play almost as a left winger, and would tuck in centrally to receive the ball in space in the midfield. Early on, this central position allowed him to pick up the ball, drive forward and get a shot away. The shot left a lot to be desired, but this wasn’t the case a few minutes later. Cochrane picked the ball up at the edge of the box, drove forward and found the bottom left corner with his weaker right foot.

This wasn’t the only time that this central position helped contribute to a goal. Sitting in an almost attacking midfield position when the ball was played out to the much deeper left winger McKay, he made a bursting run into an advanced left sided position and played a first time ball into the box. Shankland took a touch, was brought down, and scored the resulting penalty. Cochrane contributed to another goal with an inch perfect cross to the head of Shankland that was expertly finished.

He didn’t have a perfect performance though. On top of a couple loose passes and unnecessary fouls, he gave away a late penalty. There was potentially a foul on him in the lead up to the rash tackle as well as lots of pushing and pulling by both players, but a penalty was probably the correct decision.

Rating – A2

Cochrane has all the makings of a great wing back. He has a work ethic and engine which allows him to bomb up and down the pitch for a full 90 minutes, and has the strength and pace to get past the opposition. He reads the game well both defensively and in an attacking sense, which allows him to find great positions in the final third. He’s got a brilliant left foot but is very comfortable on his right. If he continues with his development, I’d not put it past him to move up to a higher level with Verona, Bologna, and Southampton being rumoured to be interested in the 23 year old.

Yutaro Oda

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Japanese
  • Age: 21
  • Date of birth: 12/08/2001
  • Club: Heart of Midlothian FC
  • Career: Vissel Kobe, Heart of Midlothian FC
  • Position: Right Winger/Center Forward
  • Preferred foot: Right

Oda signed for Hearts in January for a six figure fee, and until now hasn’t really shown why the club decided to splash out on the former Vissel Kobe man. With only just over 100 minutes played for the club coming into this weekend’s match, the forward with only 6 goal contributions in 60 matches for his former side hasn’t yet set the heather alight. On his second start for the club, he really started to show what Hearts scouting department saw in the Japan Under 21 player.

There’s two main things that stick out to me about Oda. Firstly, his explosive pace. Not only has he got a great top speed, he’s extremely agile. He showed this on numerous occasions both on and off the ball. Early on in the match he received a ball which was played towards the sideline. In the blink of an eye, he was able to turn away from the sideline, past the player that was on his back, and drive forwards. On this occasion, his head wasn’t able to keep up with his feet, and he ended up losing the ball with a bad touch. Later on in the match Oda picked up the ball in his own half, drove forward at pace and found Ginelly, and between him and Devlin they forced a brilliant double save from the opposition keeper.

Secondly, Oda showed great technical ability. He had a great first touch, found his teammates with nice touches and flicks, and showed excellent close control while dribbling. He was able to pick up a loose ball in the Ross County half, drive forward past a player and get a shot off, which was saved before Shankland finished excellently past the keeper.

Now onto the negatives. It’s glaringly obvious where Oda lacks, and that’s his confidence and cutting edge in the final third. There were numerous occasions where he lacked the confidence to take a shot and instead took a few extra touches or passed to a teammate. He probably should have scored a goal or two, but for either selflessness or lack of confidence.

Rating – B1

It’s obvious why hearts paid a decent fee for Oda. He’s got all of the raw abilities to go far in the game. As a 21 year old in an entirely new country, he may take some time to relax into his surroundings. If the management are able to instil him with confidence and help improve his decision making in the final third, then hearts may make a pretty penny on a future sale. Oda is yet to show in his career he has that in his locker though, so it’s yet to be seen if he will go on to bigger things.

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