First Team

Luck on our side

10th November 2014

Neil Alexander concedes that Hearts weren't good enough against Raith Rovers.

Despite grabbing a vital three points in Saturday's clash with Raith Rovers, Hearts were not nearly at their best and the visitors were unlucky not to leave the match with a point, at the very least.

That was the view of goalkeeper Neil Alexander, who saw his defence keep a clean sheet despite intense pressure from the Kirkcaldy side, particularly in the second half as the Jambos struggled to hold onto their slender one-goal advantage following the loss of Adam Eckersley to injury.

Although under the cosh, the home side held firm to record their sixth consecutive home victory and earn a potentially precious three points ahead of the next two league matches, against Falkirk and title challengers Rangers. After the game, the player-coach conceded that his team-mates weren't at their best in the Remembrance Weekend clash.

"I thought we were poor today", said Neil. "I felt Raith were the better side and probably deserved something from the match. They made it difficult for us to play to our strengths and in the end, we were hanging on a bit. They'd clearly watched how we like to play.

"They left us no gaps at the back, they sat in deep and gave us no room to play with, and in doing so, counteracted our style of play. The players and supporters were getting understandably frustrated but we kept our focus, and at the end of the season it could be the most crucial win of the campaign."

The Jambos were forced to field a reshuffled back line following the injury to Danny Wilson and the suspension of Callum Paterson, serving a two-game ban for his sending off in the derby draw at Easter Road a fortnight ago. Right back deputy Jordan McGhee and Brad McKay came into the team and both contributed with solid performances that ensured the Gorgie Boys' sixth clean sheet in twelve league games.

"We were forced into changes today, and naturally Callum and Danny are a big loss, especially to how we play. That said, Brad and Jordan came in and defended really well. I was really pleased with their defending and the clean sheet that we got, so that shows that we can rely on strength in depth when we need to."

Lastly, the former Cardiff and Scotland star revealed his delight at Alim Öztürk's winning strike, but admitted that he felt some sympathy with opposite number David McGurn, as the Rovers goalie was deceived by the Turk's 35-yard effort. Additionally, Alexander noted that Öztürk was welcome to shoot any time he liked if every result would end up in a goal!

"I have a lot of sympathy for the goalie", offered Neil. "I was directly behind it and I could see the way it moved all over the place. In these conditions, the ball is really like a bar of soap and it was a horrible ball to try and save.

"The big man clearly took the crowd's advice!", he said, referring to the loud cries of 'SHOOT!' from the majority of the capacity crowd in Saturday's match. "The boys have been bigging him up in training all week after the Hibs game, were he saved us from a defeat. He's full of confidence right now, so he tried it again.

"If he hits the ball the way he can, it moves all over the place. So if he's in the mood to try it again, and he feels confident then fair enough, have a strike, because we'll be delighted if he can do this for us all season."