ROBBIE NEILSON admits Hearts got a wake-up call in Inverness last night and warned his players they must fight much harder for points in the Scottish Premiership.
Goals by James Vincent and debutant Miles Storey earned Inverness Caledonian Thistle their first win this season and left Neilson upset at his team’s lack of battling spirit.
Hearts finished the game with ten men after Juwon Oshaniwas shown a red card for raising a hand to the Inverness substitute Tobi Sho-Silva. It was their second successive loss after starting the season with five wins in a row.
Neilson said he refused to get carried away by the impressive start because he knew difficult times would come.
Reminding everyone that his team have only just been promoted from the Championship, he conceded they still have lots to learn about the Premiership’s level of competition.
“We were poor and I’m disappointed,” he said of last night’s 2-0 loss. “We didn’t earn the right to win. We were out-fought, which was disappointing. In the top league, you have to compete in every game to earn the right to win. I just didn’t think we did that. We didn’t pass the ball like we can but that came from not fighting enough to get into good areas.
“We need to be realistic here. We’re a Championship team that got promoted in the summer. We had a great start to the season but the priority is to get into the top six. That’s where we hope to be.
“We were playing against an Inverness team that finished third and won the Scottish Cup. At home, they’re a decent team. We can expect just to turn up and pick up three points. We have to come up and compete, work really hard and sometimes get the rub of the green to get a victory. It’s a long time since a Hearts team won here. Realistically, that’s where we are. We won’t get carried away.
“It’s such a hard league, especially when you get promoted. You’re bringing a lot of new guys and young guys in. Sean McKirdy played centre midfield in his first start for us and I thought he did great, but that’s where we are. We’re still a team that’s trying to promote youth. When you do that, you have to accept you’re going to lose games. That’s just the way it is.”
On Oshaniwa’s dismissal, Neilson added: “I’ve not seen the red card. We got a red card a couple of weeks ago but I’ll take a look at it and decide how I proceed from here.”
John Hughes, the Inverness manager, was delighted with his team’s first victory of the campaign. “I felt Hearts were the better team in the first half but all credit to us, we competed with them. You could see that, because we weren’t getting that win, it was affecting us that wee bit.
“In the second half, we put one or two things right and we were a much better team. We deserved it in the second half. I’m delighted with some of the performances Storey got a goal on his debut and you could see how good a player he’s going to be. Big Silva is going to be a handful as well and we’re starting to get players back.
“I keep saying we’re not too far away. We could easily be sitting in second place, right up there. Lady luck has just deserted us a little bit so far. This will do us the world of good.”