Robbie Neilson has braced his Hearts team for a defensive-minded approach by Alloa today.
However, the head coach has no problem with opponents attempting to “park the bus” because he would do exactly the same if he had to bring a team of underdogs to Tynecastle.
Alloa have made life difficult for Hearts, Rangers and Hibs this season, even though they languish third from bottom of the Championship.
However, Neilson explained that clubs of Alloa’s stature benefit from having less expectation on them when they face the division’s “big three” and are therefore able to defend in numbers and try to frustrate their opponents as opposed to trying to outplay them.
“Alloa do well against the bigger teams because they can sit in,” Neilson told the Evening News. “They’re not expected to come out and go for the game whereas when they play against the teams round about them in the league, there’s an onus on them to go out and try and win the game.
“You can go and watch teams like Alloa, Cowdenbeath, Dumbarton and even Livingston, to an extent, and when you see them playing against each other, it’s a very open game. But then when you watch them against ourselves, Hibs or Rangers, it’s a different game they play.
“Alloa will look at it against us and say if they get a 0-0, it’s a brilliant result. I would do exactly the same if I was in their position coming to Tynecastle. I would sit in and defend and try and get the fans to get restless. We have to be ready for that. We have to be patient.”
The postponement of Hearts’ match at Cowdenbeath last weekend allowed Neilson to go to Easter Road and assess today’s opponents. Hibs eventually beat Alloa 2-0 but had to wait until more than halfway through each half before breaching a stuffy Wasps side.
“I thought they did well against Hibs,” he said. “They’re organised and they work hard so it’s very difficult to break them down. Hibs took a while to break them down and it took them a while to get their second goal as well, so if we’re going to get three points, we’ll need to earn it.
“It took us 87 minutes to beat Alloa the last time [at Recreation Park]; if it takes us 87 minutes this time, so be it, as long as we get the three points.”
Hearts will again be without injured duo Osman Sow and Kevin McHattie, while Morgaro Gomis is suspended. Jason Holt, Dale Carrick and Sam Nicholson are in contention after recent injury problems.