First Team

Building blocks

15th May 2016

Robbie Neilson insists the foundations have been laid for another successful campaign next season.

Robbie Neilson hailed his side’s fighting spirit as Hearts rounded off a successful Scottish Premiership campaign by fighting back from 2-0 down to claim a 2-2 draw with St Johnstone at Tynecastle.

Falling two goals down inside twelve minutes, the Jambos responded brilliantly as an Arnaud Djoum header and a Joe Shaughnessy own goal - under pressure from Juanma - levelled the game within 20 minutes.

Abiola Dauda was red carded in the second half for a foul on Liam Craig, but the home side held firm and kept the Saintees at bay to earn a hard-fought point, giving them a total of 65 for the season.

The match was notable for the Jambos giving a debut to young winger Lewis Moore, and the head coach was effusive in his praise of the teenager, who didn’t look over-awed on his first competitive appearance.

“I’m delighted for Lewis, I thought he did really well especially in the first half,” Robbie said. “Even at 2-0 down, we had a lot of the play. He’s a boy that’s a bit away from the first team yet, but we wanted to get him some game time.

“Angus Beith was another player we wanted to feature in the last few games, but we missed the registration deadline that Dundee Utd were caught out by, so he couldn’t play, otherwise he’d have been involved.

“Lewis is still only 17, so he’ll stay with the U20s next season, and if the opportunity allows we’ll look to give him some more game time as the season progressed.”

Onto the match, and Robbie was delighted with the fighting spirit his team showed after going behind so early in the match, only to recover quickly and even look like winning the game having looked down and out.

“I thought we showed good spirit,” said Neilson. “We came back from two body blows to level the match, and then we were hit by another blow when Abiola was sent off.

“We wanted to finish on a win, but the result today showed we had good spirit and character about us. I didn’t think it was a dirty game, and I’m disappointed for Abi. 

“There’s not a lot we can do about it. It wasn’t a malicious challenge, but I won’t say too much as I don’t want to go to Hampden and cut my holiday short over the summer!”

Lastly, looking ahead to next season, Robbie was insistent that his team would only improve from this league campaign, and set his sights on improving in every area, starting with toppling second-placed Aberdeen.

“We’ll take the 2-2, it gives us a good points tally, and we’ve got a lot to build on now. We’ve finished six points behind an established Aberdeen side, with a better goal difference, and the most clean sheets in the league. Now, we need to improve on that and challenge for honours next season.”