Robbie Neilson was pleased with the determination shown by his side in overcoming a stuffy Livingston team in today’s 1-0 victory at the Energy Assets Arena.
Backed by over 7,000 away supporters, James Keatings earned the Jambos the victory with his fourth goal in as many games, atoning for an earlier penalty miss, as Hearts extended their lead at the top of the Scottish Championship to 15 points.
“I thought we played great stuff in the first half,” said Neilson. “Along with the goal, we had the chances to get another two or three, and I think nervousness crept into our play in the second half. However, we defended well and kept another clean sheet so there’s plenty to be happy with.
“At the start of the week, we knew we had three tricky games against tough, hard-to-beat sides in Alloa, Cowdenbeath and Livingston, and that we’d face a really difficult task in getting nine points from those games, but we’ve managed it so that’s fantastic.”
Supporters were given a lift pre-match when it emerged that Hibs had defeated Rangers in the early kick-off, which gave Hearts the chance to increase their gap over the rest of the chasing pack.
Despite that, the gaffer revealed he had no interest in what other sides were up to.
“The Hibs game was irrelevant to us,” continued Robbie. “Other than giving the players the chance to extend their lead, it wasn’t a factor today in my mind. We were focusing on Livingston and it just so happened a chance for us to extend our lead to 15 points appeared.
“It’s great for the players to get that boost, but that kind of lead can easily be eaten away with slack play and mistakes, so it’s imperative that we keep our focus. There’s still 18 games to go, but we know if we win the rest of our games, we’ll win the league.”
Finally, the head coach reserved some words of praise for the match winner, and admitted that he’d be hard to leave out of the team if he continued scoring goals and keeping himself fit.
“If James can look after himself, he’ll be a key player for us. He gets into great positions and his record speaks for itself. He’s had a few niggles this season, but if can keep himself free of injury, I have no doubt he’ll score lots of goals for us.”