Robbie Neilson was delighted with the spirit that his team showed as the ten-man Jambos rescued a point in stoppage time against Hibs in today's Edinburgh derby.
Alim Öztürk was the hero, the centre-half striding forward and unleashing a goal of the season contender that flew past Mark Oxley to earn Hearts a hard-fought point after going a goal down to Dominique Malonga’s opener, before Callum Paterson’s late red card for a strong tackle on the Hibs goalscorer.
In his post-match press conference, the head coach revealed he thought the Leith side had prevented the Jambos from playing in their normally fluid fashion, but reaffirmed his belief in his side’s commitment and never-say-die attitude.
“It was a good way to finish the game, at least”, said Robbie. “We didn’t dominate like we’ve usually done in matches this season, and to be fair that’s down to Hibs playing well too. They were solid, passed the ball around well and made life difficult for us.
“We’ve been to Ibrox and Easter Road and scored two injury time goals, as well as the late winner at Alloa, so that shows the character in the side. We never gave up even when we lost a man, and our captain went off. We kept our shape and were the better side when we had 10 men.
“I told the boys at 1-0 down that it was a chance to prove the doubters wrong. People want us to fail, they want us to show we’re vulnerable. It’s the first time we’ve been behind this season, and it won’t be the last. Some fans leave early when their team is behind with minutes to go, but ours stayed because they know our players won’t stop fighting.
“We won’t go the whole season unbeaten, we’ll have to go through a difficult spell this season and the key thing will be how we respond to that. However, it won’t be today, and so now we’ll focus on beating Raith Rovers in a fortnight”.
Additionally, Robbie revealed that he’d be talking to Callum Paterson about his red card and offering him advice on how to avoid similar incidents in the future, as well as explaining the situation that caused skipper Danny Wilson to leave the field of play after an hour.
“Callum has been pulled out of a hole by his teammates and he knows that”, said the head coach. “We’ll talk to him during the week and advise him to watch his tackling in future, but he’ll learn from this mistake because that’s all it is. Danny has the same injury as he had from the Alloa game, but he’s got a week’s rest now and we won’t rush him back because he’s a key player for us.”