First Team

Craig pleased with players' reaction

22nd December 2018

Craig Levein believes Hearts matched in-form Aberdeen at Pittodrie today and feels it could’ve been a different scoreline, had the game’s penalty decisions taken a different turn.

The Jambos were up against it from the start after Sam Cosgrove headed the Dons in front after only a minute.

The returning Steven Naismith was hauled to the ground inside the box before Peter Haring was barged in mid-air after winning a header in the Dons’ area, but neither foul was given.

Aberdeen wrapped up all three points after Scott McKenna tumbled under an apparent shirt-pull inside the box by Christophe Berra, and Cosgrove sent Colin Doyle the wrong way with his penalty.

Craig revealed that he was happy with the reaction he got from his players after last week’s defeat at Livingston but feels his side should’ve been given the chance to level matters from the spot.

“I was really happy with the response from the players after last week. It’s difficult to come here for any team, and Aberdeen have hit a good spell of form.

“We made it twice as hard by conceding after a minute, but after that, I thought we did quite well. 

“I thought the game was pretty even from the beginning. We had spells on top, Aberdeen had the same, without either side creating many clear cut chances, but when it’s so finely balanced, I hate to say the same thing every week, big decisions change games.

“We gave Aberdeen a goal start, but not getting either of the penalties possibly alters the match, along with their second goal being disputed.

“It becomes exasperating complaining about the same thing every week.

“Steven Naismith was pulled to the ground right in front of the referee. The referee said he didn’t see it.

“Peter Haring had a free header and was barged in the back, and both of those were denied.

“I just asked about the first one, the more obvious one, but I don’t understand it.”