Liam Boyce played a key role in Heart of Midlothian's 1-0 win over St Johnstone in Saturday's Premiership encounter at Tynecastle Park.

The Northern Irishman spoke to the press after the match and discussed the debate over who scored the winning goal, his partnership with Lawrence Shankland and what it is like playing against deep defences. 

Here is everything he had to say:

READ MORE: How Hearts displayed growth with St Johnstone win compared to early season struggles

Surely you are not giving that goal away?

I was saying to Shanks that he scores enough so he could have given me it. But it’s just the way it is. As long as it goes in the net and we win. These are tough games. Teams come here and it’s difficult to break them down. We saw that with Livingston when Kenny [Vargas] came on and scored at the end. It was always going to take something like that to get a goal and settle us down. I’m just happy it went in, if anything.

Were you panicking with Shankland's reaction that he was offside?

No. I knew that it hit him. I was just running away celebrating, trying to do the Alan Shearer and see if I could get the goal myself. But I knew right away that it had hit him.

If that hits the defender they are not going to give it as an own goal?

I know but it doesn’t matter. That’s not how football works. I’m just happy that we got a goal and we won the game. I was sort of thinking it could be offside. With those when you are running in you run to try and meet the ball behind the defensive line so when I shot he might have been offside. But thankfully he wasn’t.

It seems that's the way the game is going, celebrations are subdued?

At the time I thought I saw someone in behind him. Any time we played in behind them they were dropping really deep. That’s why the cutback eventually worked. I was just hoping it was onside. I thought I caught a glimpse because when I shot I looked up I saw it hitting Shanks and I saw someone. But with VAR lines these days it can be your shoulder offside. So it was a bit nervy but thankfully it was a goal.

Do you sense you are building a bit of momentum now, three league wins in a row for the first time since January 2022?

I didn’t actually realise that until Naisy told us before the game. We know we are a good team and that’s the sort of thing we should be doing regularly. We need to build on it now and be consistent and be better in everything we are trying to do. We need to get better with everything we are trying to do, and pick up the right spaces and know which way each other plays, and the longer you keep the starting XI together the more you can build that. It’s good we’ve done that. I don’t know the last time we won four in a row but hopefully it’s next week.

READ MORE: Penalty decisions, Hearts consistency, breaking down stubborn defences - Naismith Q&A

What's it been like for you personally because you've had to be patient?

Yes, obviously as a footballer you want to be playing. I feel I can help the team. It doesn’t matter if it’s goals or helping us play from the back or showing for the ball. I’ll do anything to help the team and it’s just good to be in and part of it and it’s paying off and we are winning games. Hopefully that continues.

When the crowd are getting anxious is that hard and something you have to learn to adapt to if that is how teams are going to play?

That’s what happens when you play for a big club. The fans want to see goals, goals, goals, every time you go forward. But football doesn’t work like that. The Livingston game here was the same. Teams come and they are good at defending and it’s hard to break them down. You have to keep doing the right things and believe that it’s eventually going to pay off. We don’t want to pass it backwards but that’s what you need to do sometimes. To bring their whole team to the side of the pitch you need to do it as quickly as possible to get it to the other side to give someone a bit of time and space. That’s when you make stuff happen. But you need to get used to it when you play for a big club. That’s just the way it is. 

Does the way you play now help when teams start dropping off you?

Everyone knows that the thing that’s good about me is that I was never quick so the older I get I don't get any slower. If anything, as I get older I try to help other people, like Alex Lowry has all the quality in the world and you just try to drop deep and play one pass that’s going to take out the whole team and you just try to help them. If I drop into one space then he can take a defender out and a pass will come in. My awareness is probably my strongest thing and those are the things I like to do, I like to help people who are under pressure, help the team. If you build that relationship and create space for each other then it gives you a pass when you get the ball.

What's it like to play with Shankland?

Yeah, I missed it for a year and was sitting watching him score goals and I couldn't wait to get back. He has surprised me almost more than anyone with how good he is with the ball at his feet. You just see him scoring goals all the time and you think that’s all he can do but if he drops in, I’ll go higher, and we are fine-tuning that now. Our understanding is slowly getting better and better as the weeks go on and hopefully that continues because it will be good for us.

You, Shankland and Lowry all want to come to the ball but need to find the balance with someone running in behind?

At the start of the season we were keeping the ball and we were looking alright but we were never really threatening teams. But in the last few weeks that’s something we’ve worked on. You need people who can make the run because you can't play football with everyone in behind teams or there is going to be no space. St Johnstone actually played quite a high line and we were making runs, especially in the first 15 minutes when I thought we were very good. We were making a lot of runs, we just didn't get the goal. If you make runs then you make the line drop and that's what we all want because eventually you are going to get that space and then it’s whether you can take advantage of it or not.

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