Hearts boss praises players for passing - not panicking

Robbie Neilson was impressed by the way his players stuck to the philosophy in the derby
Robbie Neilson was impressed by the way his players stuck to the philosophy in the derby
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Robbie Neilson today praised his Hearts players for sticking to their passing philosophy even when they are chasing a goal late in games.

The head coach was especially pleased his side did not resort to desperate high balls as they trailed 1-0 to Hibs on Sunday before Alim Ozturk’s sensational equaliser in stoppage time.

Neilson conceded that the 1-1 draw at Easter Road was Hearts’ toughest match of the Championship season so far. They recently won 1-0 at Alloa through a late Adam Eckersley strike, which also pleased the management team because of the perseverance shown with their passing game.

Neilson warned that his side will fight tooth and nail to preserve their unbeaten record but will not veer from their stated philosophy of football. They have lost in both the Petrofac Training Cup, to Livingston, and the League Cup, to Celtic, but have yet to suffer a league defeat. Dominique Malonga’s goal looked destined to give Hibs three points on Sunday until Ozturk lashed a dramatic 40-yard equaliser.

“I was pleased that we still passed it about and didn’t resort to just shelling the ball up the park,” said Neilson. “We did try and pass it and get into good areas. Even when we went down to ten men, we still got players into good places and eventually we got the goal, which was great.

“It probably was our hardest game so far. Easter Road is a difficult place to go.

“We’re trying to hold on to our unbeaten record and Hibs were desperate to beat us. We had chances. Soufian El Hassnaoui had one in the first half and, if that goes in, it’s a different game.

“Hibs took the lead and had most of the play in the first half. We came into the game a bit in the second half.

“We want to keep the run going as long as we can. We want to keep that spirit in the team. Sunday was great because it shows we can keep going right to the end. We kept doing the right things and we got our rewards for it.

“The players are looking fit and looking strong. They can go 90 minutes and continue pushing and pushing. They’re certainly working hard in training and they’re reaping the benefits from it.”

• Hearts’ first AGM under Ann Budge’s stewardship is scheduled to take place in December. In a statement on the club website, Budge said: “An AGM will be held in December, prior to Christmas, in the Gorgie Suite.

“I will confirm the date once I have clarity on when the 2013-14 audited accounts are likely to be available.”