Robbie Neilson's three substitutions proved to be the difference in today’s hard-fought win over Dundee at Tynecastle.
After a goalless first half, and The Dees hitting the woodwork four times, Robbie took the decision to withdraw Tony Watt for Robbie Muirhead.
The forward repaid his manager’s faith with a great display off the bench, as his fine free-kick found the head of Callum Paterson to give Hearts the lead.
Fellow subs Bjorn Johnsen and Prince Buaben combined with Jamie Walker to help put a seal on the win, with the American striker netting his first goal in maroon with one minute to play.
After the match, the head coach admitted it had been a hard choices to make, but was pleased his decisions were vindicated.
“Sometimes you just have to make those decisions,” said Neilson. “I felt the way things were going, we’d lost our foothold in the game a bit, and Dundee were playing well. We needed a bit more balance and energy, and Robbie provided that.
“I thought Robbie handled it really well. People forget how young he is because he’s been around for a while, but he’s got a great chance. He’s got that spark and did really well for us today.”
Hearts created a raft of chances in the first half, with Dundee keeper Scott Bain saving a host of efforts from the home side.
Admitting sometimes it takes time to break down the opposition, Robbie hailed his side for their ability to keep creating opportunities.
“The first-half felt a bit like Groundhog Day. We’re still creating those chances, but just not taking them early enough. We played against an inspired Scott Bain as well today.
“Our goals are coming towards the end of games now. Teams sit in against us, and they’re hard to break down. Players like Cowie, Djoum and Sammon do a lot of work tiring out teams.
“That makes it easier for our substitutes to come on and steal the glory like Muirhead and Johnsen did for us today!” he said, with a laugh.
Finally, Robbie offered an update on the disappointing news that Sam Nicholson will be out of action until the New Year with a torn meniscus in his right knee.
“We can’t dwell on it, we don’t need to rush Sam back. We could have him back for the end of December, but the winter break will be coming up and that’ll give us an extra few weeks for him, so we’re looking at the end of January.”