THE match-ups are starting to mean more now. Nothing will be settled when Hearts and Motherwell take on their nearest rivals this week but there was an admission following the teams’ draw at Tynecastle on Saturday that the outcome will carry far greater weight than would have been the case earlier in the season.

Hearts’ recent revival has given them belated hope that they might yet be able to stave off the threat of relegation. They followed encouraging wins over Rangers and Hibernian with this battling point, extending their unbeaten run to four matches ahead of Wednesday night’s trip to play St Mirren.

Victory in Paisley would lift Daniel Stendel’s men off the bottom of the table and Conor Washington believes they now approach it with a greater sense of assurance.

“It’s still very much in our hands,” said the striker whose second-half goal cancelled out Chris Long’s opener for Motherwell. “If we win our remaining games then we stay up.

“If you take the other results out of it and look at it from a Hearts perspective, then it’s been a good week with the wins against Rangers and Hibs.

“And make no bones about it, Motherwell are a very good side. They’re third in the table for a reason. They’ve got a set way of playing but I think we managed to nullify that.

“I think 10 more of those performances should get us over the line. We go into this next game full of confidence. If we do what we need to do over the remaining games then I’m sure we’ll be fine.”

Motherwell have no such relegation worries this season. Instead, they face an intriguing duel with Aberdeen for the right to finish third in the table and, as their fans sang about on Saturday, claim a place in Europe next season.

Ahead by just a point, they welcome Derek McInnes’ side to Fir Park on Friday for what ought to be an intriguing contest under the lights.

“No matter what happened with the result on Saturday it was always going to be a huge game so nothing changes,” said forward Jermaine Hylton.

“We just have to do what we need to do and hopefully get the three points. Everyone is fighting for their lives at the minute so it’s a real dog fight.

“Every single game is like a cup final. You’ve got to be prepared to go and scrap. It’s about who wants it most.

“We’ve got a lot of good players at the club, some who are on the bench and not even in the squad. Competition is really tough at the minute so whoever is coming in will do a good job. We’ve got a good thing going.”