First Team

A game of two halves

20th September 2014

Head coach delighted with second half improvement as Hearts rout Cowdenbeath in Gorgie sunshine.

Robbie Neilson was delighted with his side's improvement in the second half of today's game with Cowdenbeath, as a lacklustre first-half was brushed aside with a four-goal demolition to seal a 5-1 win at a packed Tynecastle.

Goals from Billy King, Jamie Walker, a penalty from Osman Sow and a double from substitute Dale Carrick gave the Jambos their biggest win of the season so far, as they stretched their advantage at the top of the table to three points following Rangers' draw with Alloa.

Despite the win, most observers would concede Hearts did not play well enough in the first half, and few could have complained had Cowdenbeath headed in at the break leading the match. However, the Gorgie Boys reemerged as a different side and showed their quality to earn the three points.

"The first half wasn't good enough", admitted Robbie. "We were a lot better after the break. We told the players to focus on the things we work on in training, quick tempo, passing, break at pace. The early goal always helps matters too.

"We work on runs to the front post in training, so it was pleasing to see Jamie get the goal there. The first half was lackadaisical, we were too slow, but we got the three points in the end."

After playing a mainly settled side for the first five matches of the season, Robbie freshened things up by bringing in Callum Paterson, Jamie Walker, Scott Robinson and Adam Eckersley to the starting line-up.

In addition, Dale Carrick made his first appearance since the opening day of the season, coming on for Billy King and showing what he could do by hitting a dazzling double strike - both from long range - and almost hit a sensational hat-trick after another effort hit the crossbar.

"Dale did really well. I'm delighted for him, he had a hard pre-season with a couple of wee injuries. He's worked really hard in the gym over the summer, he's strong, quick and aggressive, and a really good player. We have good depth now, boys coming into the team and staking their claim.

"Kevin McHattie and Sam Nicholson will both be back in training this week, so the core of the squad is looking good."

Following the disappointment of last week's draw at Dumbarton, Robbie was pleased to get back to winning ways and insisted that today's results elsewhere in the league - Rangers drawing at Alloa, and Hibs losing again at Queen of the South - simply highlighted the difficult nature of getting out of this division at the first time of asking.

"The draw last week was disappointing, but it was a difficult venue to go to. People think we'll just go and win every game by X amount, but it won't happen. Results today showed how hard and unpredictable the league is.

"We've got a wee gap at the top of the league now, so we can go to Parkhead on Wednesday with confidence, and then look for 3 points against Livingston next week."