Robbie Neilson was a man of mixed emotions after Hearts defeated Dundee United 1-0 in today’s Ladbrokes Premiership encounter at Tannadice.
Juanma Delgado grabbed the only goal of the lunchtime fixture, slamming home a clinical penalty on 15 minutes after Sam Nicholson was fouled, and despite a late onslaught of high balls and free kicks, the boys in maroon held firm.
While pleased to grab their first win since August in the league, the head coach admitted to being slightly disappointed with his side’s performance, although he heaped praise on his defence who held firm to record a second clean sheet in three games.
“I was happy with the result, but the performance was slightly disappointing,” said Robbie. “Our defenders were excellent, as were the boys who were away with the U21s during the week and played two games.
“They put a lot of balls into the box and we sat a bit deeper because we knew we had more height and power than they did,” he continued. “We tried to counter but we were either fouled or slack in the final third.
“There was a bit of nervousness because we wanted a win badly, but we got there in the end, I think it’s our first league win since August which is a relief.”
The Jambos were like the walking wounded by the end of the match, having lost Danny Swanson, Miguel Pallardo and Juwon Oshaniwa to various bumps and bruises resulting from a very physical game.
In a fiery match, the Terrors were shown six yellow cards and one red. Despite this, Robbie conceded it was part of the game and stated he was pleased his team got the chance to mix it up with a different kind of opposition
“I’ve no complaints about how United approached the game. They’re fighting for their lives and sometimes you don’t have time to play fancy football when you’re struggling. They have a new manager they want to impress, but it gave our players a chance to show they can take it.”
Next for Hearts is a home game with Ross County, as they aim to close the gap on Aberdeen who lie 4 points ahead after the first 11 games of the season.
“Aberdeen are four points ahead of us, so that’s our next target. We’re third after the first round of games which is terrific when you consider we’re a newly promoted side.
“The goal for us is to come to grounds like Tannadice and not just win, but win convincingly. That’s what we’re building towards and we’re making strides.”
Lastly, Robbie gave supporters an update on the condition of Pallardo and Oshaniwa, and singled out Osman Sow for special praise, the big Swedish hitman grabbing the man of the match award from broadcasters Sky Sports.
“Miguel has a kick in his calf, just a dead leg, so he’ll be fine for next weekend. Oshaniwa has a possible tear which will need a scan, so we’ll assess that, but we’re hoping it’s just a spasm.
“Osman is a top top player, I hope we can hang on to him,” he enthused. “All that’s missing is goals at the moment, but they’ll come. He has pace, power and touch, and he’s a very important player for us.”