First Team

Missed opportunity

26th October 2016

Robbie Neilson wants team to win ugly as Jambos pass up chance to go second.

Robbie Neilson says his team needs to learn to win ugly after losing 2-0 against Kilmarnock last night.

The Jambos went down to stunning goals in either half from Souleymane Coulibaly and Steven Smith, and the head coach wants his side to be able to adapt when teams put them under pressure.

“Kilmarnock came out and pressed really aggressively and we didn’t handle it,” he said. “Credit to Kilmarnock, their gameplan was to press the life out of us and we had wee periods when we tried to play and popped it about a bit but we never really got any penetration.

“It was one of those nights that we hope are few and far between.

“That’s Scottish football and the majority of teams will do that, they will press and get after the ball but you have to be able to deal with that and in the games we have played so far this season we have done that very well.

“But this was one of those days when we couldn’t get a grip of the game. That happens and I don’t want to just tell them to just shell it out the park but sometimes that’s how you beat a pressing team.

“We still want to pass it but we have to be able to flip our game a bit better than we did last night. We got our best success when we turned their back four and we didn't do that enough.”

Hearts were left to rue missed chances at Rugby Park and Robbie insists his forwards need to start burying them if they are to take maximum points in games.

“It is just really disappointing the way it panned out,” he said. “We started the game, in the first 5-10 minutes really well and had an unbelievable opportunity to score but if you don't take chances then you don't win games, that’s it, end of story.

“If we score than then maybe it's a different story but we didn’t. You look at last night and we had the two best chances in the game to score and we got beat 2-0. It summed up how we have been recently.

“We have had loads of good chances but not taking them but we are taking them and that's the main thing but last night, I just think was a wake up call for us.

“We played fantastic football at times and moved the ball about in tight areas but we need to do the other side of the game and be able to turn teams.”

“It’s football and scoring goals is the hardest thing to do, no matter what anyone says. That’s why strikers get paid the most money. It happens and you go through periods when you won’t score many goals. You have to keep creating.”

Focus now turns to Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership match away to Inverness Caledonian Thistle. With the chance to go second in the table now gone, the gaffer believes his players have to put last night’s disappointment behind them and double their efforts at the weekend to get back to winning ways.

“We’ve got a tough game against Inverness,” he said. “They got a great result on Wednesday and you’d expect them to do exactly what Kilmarnock did to us so we’ll have to be ready and play better than we did there.

“It’s frustrating because we had the chance to go second and we spoke about that in the dressing room. It was a great opportunity but it’s done and the focus is on Saturday now.

“That’s football. It’s a tough night and the players are disappointed. It’s a long season, we’ll lose games and it’s about how we react to it.

“I think last night was a real learning curve. Yes, we can play good football but we have to mix it up.”