First Team

Step in right direction

13th August 2016

Robbie Neilson hails his side for earning well-deserved point at Pittodrie.

Robbie Neilson was pleased with the response of his players as they bounced back from midweek defeat to record a well-deserved draw in today’s Scottish Premiership clash with Aberdeen.

Tony Watt missed a glorious opportunity to give Hearts all three points at Pittodrie, but ultimately the head coach was pleased, and revealed his belief that the striker would be burying those chances sooner rather than later.

“It was quite an even game with two well matched teams,” said Robbie. “There wasn’t much of a game played as, like last season, both teams tend to cancel each other out quite a lot.

“Tony had a great chance, but he was just off balance and missed the target. He’ll score those in a few weeks. We wanted to win, but a point is a step in the right direction for us.”

Robbie defended the bookings his players received this afternoon and explained what happened when referee Kevin Clancy had words with him at the touchline.

“Every manager gets frustrated with referees, but it’s just because you want every decision to go your way,” he explained. “It’s part of football to get annoyed in the heat of the moment.

“We’ve had a lot of bookings already this season, but our first three matches were against the other teams in last year’s top four, so they were always going to be high intensity matches.

“Things will begin to calm down now that we’ll probably be playing some matches where we have more possession of the ball and can control things a bit more.

“We just need to manage ourselves a bit better on the park. The Rherras booking (kicking the ball away) was what frustrated me most, so we’ll talk to him about it. I can’t be angry at the players being committed in challenges.

Finally, having singled out the defence on Wednesday night after the Betfred Cup defeat to St Johnstone, Robbie praised his backline for a solid display in which they never looked like conceding.

“Defensively, we were much better today,” he enthused. “We conceded three on Wednesday, and a team like Hearts should never need to be scoring 4 goals to win a match, so it was great to get the right reaction.”