First Team

We're going to be relentless

17th August 2014

Robbie Neilson thrilled to beat Hibs but insists Jambos must be ruthless all season to win league title.

Robbie Neilson was a delighted man after his Hearts side built on last week's terrific win at Ibrox by defeating Hibs 2-1 in a fiery Edinburgh derby.

A Sam Nicholson screamer and a Prince Buaben penalty proved enough for the Jambos, despite Farid El Alagui's injury time volley and Osman Sow's 88th minute red card.

Addressing the media, Robbie admitted the team didn't play quite the way he intended but that ultimately, the three points were all that mattered.

"We knew it would be scrappy at times. Football broke out sporadically, but there were a lot of long balls. Players become scared to make mistakes, so they become scared to take the ball. We created a few chances, not as many as I'd like, but we did take them when we got them.

"We have players who can make things happen when the game stretches. The game always opens up after an hour, without fail. Players can't close down their opponents for 90 mins, if you have talented players like we do, and if you have patience you'll get rewards. Sam took 90 minutes to produce a bit of magic at Ibrox, he took 75 today, but when he did it was unstoppable."

Hearts were hit with some major drama during the week as the loss of both first-team goalkeepers Neil Alexander and Scott Gallacher meant the Jambos were without a recognised first team goalie. Jack Hamilton was recalled on loan from Stenhousemuir, and Lee Hollis was drafted in at the last moment.

Academy prospect Hamilton donned the gloves today, and the head coach revealed he was very pleased with how young Jack handled the big occasion, heading into the melting pot of an Edinburgh derby for his first game.

"I'm really delighted for Jack. We're disappointed he didn't keep a clean sheet but that was not his fault. I had no qualms about playing him today. He's a good keeper and an excellent character, confident, well liked and respected by the group. Scott Gallacher has minor ligament damage so we will assess him to see what the full damage is."

Hearts will take a huge chunk of confidence from today's victory, which leaves them joint top of the SPFL Championship having faced, in the eyes of the media at least, their two biggest rivals and emerged victorious. Despite this, Robbie insisted the hard work had only just begun, and that Hearts would need to be ruthless when facing.

"Wins help belief and confidence but it's only 6 points at the end of the day. We have to be relentless, we have to win. Win and win. We'll prepare for the Petrofac Cup tie with Livingston now, and we will rotate the squad and rest players. The league is the most important, but we must develop all of our players, and also try to keep the momentum going.

"There's more to come. Our hard work never stops, we have to keep winning games and win them the right way but football isn't just about aesthetics, it's about results. If we can blend the two, fantastic, but today we simply did what we had to do."

Lastly, Neilson conceded that he expected Hibs to provide a tough challenge for his side this year, the Leith outfit showing a marked improvement from the team who were surprisingly relegated from the SPFL Premiership at the end of last season.

"I expect Hibs to be up there. They have good players and an impressive management team. The difference in them is night and day from last season, so we're under no illusions. It's going to be a very difficult league to win but we're confident we can do it."