Robbie Neilson admitted his team were undone by a lack of focus and concentration as league leaders Aberdeen recorded a 3-1 victory at Tynecastle this afternoon.
The Dons showed why they lead the Ladbrokes Premiership with a brutally efficient display of counter attacking, going in at the break three goals to the good.
Despite a rousing start to the second half from Hearts, and a maiden goal for Igor Rossi, the Jambos struggled to break down a resolute Aberdeen defence and the away side held on for the three points.
“We switched off three times in the first half and that lost us the match, it’s as simple as that,” said Neilson. “I thought we played some good football at times but if you’re not focused for 90 minutes, then you’ll be punished.
“We told the players not to give up free kicks in dangerous areas if it could be helped, and they did. Aberdeen have quality delivery, and combined with our bad marking we’ve given them an early head-start.
“From there, we were stung twice by switching off while chasing the game,” he continued. “To compete at this level, you cannot lose focus. The third goal summed up our day. We had a free kick in a really dangerous position.
“The delivery was really poor, it didn’t beat the first man and we weren’t organised at the back. Miguel Pallardo’s been left back, he’s on a booking so he can’t make a tackle and it’s a goal. It’s just silly stuff and we need to work on it.”
Despite the team now having lost three in a row for the first time under his stewardship, Neilson conceded that nobody got carried away when things were going well, so that wouldn’t change now that things aren’t going the way everybody wants.
He was realistic in his assessment of things, pointing out that this squad still contains a great deal of last season’s Scottish Championship winning side, as well as a number of young players untested at this level.
“I think this is a learning curve for everyone, including the staff and the fans,” Robbie added. “We win the first five games, and the expectations go through the roof. We’ve only just been promoted. Eighteen months ago, the club nearly went out of business.
“We still have a long way to go, we had two untried kids on the bench today so that shows where we are. We need to accept that we’ll lose games because we will not spend money to chase quick success again, it will not happen.”
Finally, Robbie confirmed he hoped to have midfielder Morgaro Gomis available for selection for Wednesday’s Scottish League Cup encounter with Kilmarnock, the Senegalese talisman having missed the past two matches due to a family bereavement.
“Morgaro is a big character for the team, and we’ve missed him on and off the park. He’s somewhere in Africa just now for a family funeral and we’re giving him all the time he needs. I believe there was a hold-up but he’s aiming to be home on Tuesday and available for Wednesday.”