First team

Naismith proud of players

17 August 2023

Hearts' Technical Director Steven Naismith has praised Hearts for sticking to the game plan after the men in maroon came from behind to defeat Rosenborg 3-1 at Tynecastle to progress to the UEFA Conference League play-off round.


"It was eventful," Naismith said, speaking to Hearts TV at full-time.


"For the first 10-15 minutes, we weren't as calm as controlled as I would have liked us to have been and with them getting the early goal, that increased the pressure on us. 


"But our response to that, the way we dealt with going behind and the players doing what we asked them to do, is a big moment for the squad. 


"I have talked in the past about players having to have a mentality to play for Hearts because there is a demand. It would have been easy for players to shy away, or blame others, but we stuck to the game plan and it never really impacted the team which is brilliant. 


"We scored goals at the right times, the game got a bit end-to-end when the tiredness kicked in, but we continued to make brave passes which gives us a bit of control and gives us a good chance, so overall it was a pleasing night. 


"Within the squad, we have a lot of experience. Personally, I have played in a lot of European games. It is a two-legged affair, so last week, getting that goal from Shanks was important. 


"After the game, we weren't really negative. We knew we had to come back to Tynie, where you can get the fans behind you, so overall, you have to manage the full occasion. That is down to mentality and having a mindset that says 'I am going to take this game by the scruff of the neck' and a lot of players tonight done that." 


The Jambos will face Greek side, Paok Salonika in the playoff round, with the first leg taking place at Tynecastle next Thursday. 


"It will be a tough game. We knew coming into the game tonight, if we got through, the game would be tough, whoever progressed. But we need to be a club who has a threat and goes into these games with the minimum expectation that we compete. So, that is a game we are all looking forward to."