Robbie Neilson was keen to put today’s defeat against Celtic behind him as the SPFL Premiership winners ran out victorious in today’s William Hill Scottish Cup tie at Tynecastle.
The Jambos’ task was made much more difficult as Morgaro Gomis was sent off after just seven minutes for a slide tackle on Celtic captain Scott Brown. Despite holding out for half an hour, a double from Virgil van Dijk, a penalty from John Guidetti - awarded despite protestations from the home side - and an Anthony Stokes effort proved the difference in a 4-0 defeat.
After the game, Robbie was keen to distance himself from any decisions made on the match, focusing on his players’ work rate and next week’s crucial clash with Queen of the South at Tynecastle.
"I thought my players worked really hard”, he said. “I don't want to get drawn on decisions because we are trying to be dignified in defeat. We'll use this as motivation for the rest of the season, and try to learn a lesson from it.
“Having seen both incidents, I’m disappointed with the outcome of each decision. At 1-0 you are always in the game but as soon as the second goes in Celtic can start popping the ball around.
“The match is done now, and there’s really no point in trying to look for explanations or reasons, because there’s nothing to be done about it. We’ve got a really important game next week and preparations start immediately.”
Despite the chance to go into the next round of the cup, Robbie admitted that his priority has always been to ensure promotion in the league. Conceding a cup run would have been a bonus, the head coach reaffirmed his belief that winning the league was his ultimate aim.
“I thought the boys worked hard to keep their shape, and not let their heads go down, and I was pleased with the work rate they showed against a team who were happy to keep the ball.
"The main aim for us is the league. It would have been nice to have a cup run but it wasn't to be. We were playing against the best team in Scotland and had a man sent off and then there was the penalty. You need the rub of the green and we didn't get it."