Kelly keen to maintain high standards as Livingston target Hearts upset

The midfielder is eagerly anticipating the clash between sides currently sitting third and fourth.

Stephen Kelly keen to maintain high standards as Livingston target Hearts upset SNS Group

Stephen Kelly knows the standards Livingston have to attain if they are to topple in-form Hearts on Sunday.

The 22-year-old midfielder signed from Rangers last September and scored his first goal for David Martindale’s side to give the Lions the lead after 55 minutes when the sides met at Tynecastle on November 12.

Hearts had defender Kye Rowles sent off with 15 minutes remaining for grabbing the shirt of Joel Nouble following a VAR review and the visitors were awarded a penalty, only for Craig Gordon to save Sean Kelly’s spot-kick.

Livi were then denied the win when Josh Ginnelly scored in the sixth minute of stoppage time and since then Robbie Neilson’s side are unbeaten in nine matches and sit in third place in the cinch Premiership, seven points ahead of the West Lothian club having played a game more.

Kelly said: “We were probably a little bit unlucky the way we drew the game in the end.

“It was a great performance, especially in the second half. So I think something close to that is going to be required for Sunday.

“Obviously Hearts are sitting in third so it should be a good game. I am expecting a tough game, as all games in the Premiership tend to be, home or away.

“We have had two good results away from home (wins over Ross County and St Johnstone) and a result in the Scottish Cup as well (beating Stenhousemuir) so a bit of momentum seems to be building.”

Much has been made of Martindale’s half-time rant against Stenhousemuir in the Scottish Cup last week.

Livingston were down 1-0 to the League Two side at the interval when the Livi boss let rip at his players.

The West Lothian men responded with three second-half goals to win through to the fifth round but unbeknown to Martindale, someone had recorded his expletive-laden pep talk and it was later widely shared on social media.

However, Kelly described the rant as “pretty standard” and noted that it did the trick.

He said: “It was probably a good way to get a reaction from some boys and obviously in the second half we played pretty well.

“At any team, if you are losing at half-time, the manager is not going to be happy but you just take that on the chin.”

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