First Team

Reaction: Robbie Neilson

5th December 2021

Robbie Neilson was pleased with his team's battling performance as they took all three points at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Sunday afternoon and the manager believed one change in particular proved decisive. 

Liam Boyce bagged his 11th goal of the season minutes into the second half to seal a 1-0 victory as they opened up a 5 point gap down to Dundee United in 4th place. The boys in maroon didn't have it all their own way, however, with the home side on top during the opening 45 minutes.

"We decided to make an early change which we don't normally do. Bringing Peter Haring on in the first half gave us stability in the central area which then allowed us to gain control of the game and get forward," Robbie told HeartsTV.

"I think Peter coming on probably won the game for us."

Going into the break at 0-0, the manager admitted a few choice words were needed during the interval.

"I probably couldn't repeat it here but there were a couple of messages at half-time. The first one was, when you come to places like this you can't always play the nice football you play at Tynecastle...you have to get control of the middle of the park and then get it into areas where your technical players can give you something special."

Goalscorer Boyce was forced off towards the latter stages of the game, however, Robbie is confident he'll be fit to face Rangers next Sunday.

"Boyce has carried a couple of knocks recently and for us it's just making sure he's ready to go for next weekend. Mick Smith will be alright as well, he had back spasms but he had a tough shift on Thursday night and the surface here today proabably didn't do him any favours."

The boys in maroon were backed to the hilt by nearly 4,000 Jambos in the away end in Livingston and Robbie was full of praise for the backing his team received.

"Brilliant, honestly, brilliant. What a support. Like us, they'll be disappointed with that first half but they see the spirit in the team. We spoke about it before the game; the last time we came here we got beat 5-0. We spoke before the game about how this would be a battle, we need to fight and you saw by the end they had given everything. 

"Yes, you want to to play nice football but sometimes you just need to battle for the club."