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Hibernian boss Heckingbottom sets sights on overtaking Hearts

Hibernian manager Paul Heckingbottom admits his side are desperate to chase down rivals Hearts after a 2-0 victory over Motherwell boosted their Ladbrokes Premiership top-six hopes.

Marc McNulty broke the deadlock with a 19th-minute penalty before captain David Gray scored what proved to be the final goal with a 39th-minute header.

The result moves the Leith outfit five points clear of seventh-place Motherwell and within two of Edinburgh counterparts Hearts, whom they face on April 6 at Tynecastle.

Former Leeds boss Heckingbottom acknowledges that catching Hearts is a big incentive.

He said: “We want to be top six, of course we do. But it’s more important we get better and better and push every week to perform as well as we can. That’s how we approach it.

“The lads are looking at Hearts as well, they have just seen the result in there (1-0 loss to Hamilton).

“Listen, those games don’t define where you finish in the league but they are better games when there is something riding on them.

“Everyone enjoys it better, myself on the sidelines, the players on the pitch and the fans in the stand.

“But being really clinical about it, they are just the next team in front of us. Whoever it is we just want to try and catch them.”

Heckingbottom was thrilled with McNulty’s performance as the striker took his tally to seven from as many games, and hopes he features for Scotland in the upcoming Euro 2020 qualifiers against
Kazakhstan and San Marino.

He added: “The hard work’s done here so he can go and enjoy himself.

“He’s in good form and at a stage now where he’s played enough games so he’s match fit. I don’t think he can be going in any better shape.”

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson concedes his side’s top-six aspirations suffered a significant setback.

He said: “There are just three games to go so of course it’s a blow to getting into the top six.

“We wanted a minimum of a point. It makes it more difficult now but why not go and win the next three games?

“The players gave me everything. Coming to a place like this, we’ve completely changed how we play.

“Our build-up was very good up to a point but we lacked a killer instinct in the final third.

“The first minute of the game and the last minute of the game summed it up.

“The ball hits the post and comes back off Jake Hastie when it’s a tap-in and then Danny Johnson has a great chance but it ricochets back off himself three or four yards from goal.”

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