ROBBIE NEILSON today bemoaned the wasteful finishing which cost Hearts two points at Fir Park.
The Tynecastle head coach admitted conditions played a part in denying his team a win but felt they had enough chances to score a third goal.
Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Motherwell dropped Hearts to third in the Ladbrokes Premiership as Aberdeen returned to second after beating Ross County. Juanma Delgado and Osman Sow scored the visitors’ goals in Lanarkshire but Neilson could only lament other opportunities which weren’t converted.
“We had a lot of good chances to win it,” he said. “We had a one-v-one involving Osman in the first half, we had Sam Nicholson in good positions, Arnaud Djoum in good positions, Juanma as well. We had five or six really good chances to win it, but the conditions at times were just horrific.”
Driving wind and torrential rain left the match bordering on farcical at times. “Juanma chips it over the keeper and it looks the like the ball’s going in, then the wind blows it out. Danny Swanson’s trying to take a free-kick and the ball’s moving so he can’t play it. It wasn’t until half an hour to go, when the wind and rain died down a bit, that we started to play. I was disappointed in the performance a bit. We want to play football and it can be difficult in those conditions. We played some decent stuff at times but not enough. We didn’t pick the right pass or get into good areas. When we did make the right decisions, we create chances but we just couldn’t finish.”
Sow’s performance was the highlight for Hearts. The Swedish striker scored an impressive 30-yard effort to tie the game at 2-2 having provided the pass for Juanma’s first-half leveller.
“The second goal was a great strike and the first one was well worked by Osman,” said Neilson. “We had chances, we got through into good areas and we overdid it or we tried to finish and skied it. The conditions make it really difficult to play in that. Yes, we want to win but on days like that you just have to battle and hope for the best.”
Neilson felt referee Steven McLean might have awarded Hearts a free-kick at Motherwell’s first goal. Well striker Louis Moult challenged Neil Alexander and appeared to knock the ball out of the goalkeeper’s hands before scoring. “Nine times out of ten you get a free-kick for contact like that on the goalkeeper,” said Neilson. “For some reason, the referee decided he wasn’t going to give it. The second goal we lost was slack play and a silly pass from us on the halfway line into an area where we are under pressure. Motherwell break and it’s a good finish from Marvin Johnson.”
Hearts are hopeful that winger Billy King will be fit to face Inverness this weekend after a knee injury. “Billy trained during the week but still felt his knee. We hope it’s settled down over the weekend and he can get back into training this week,” explained Neilson.
“Alim Ozturk will play half an hour for the under-20s tonight, but Jamie Walker won’t be ready, neither will Soufian El Hassnaoui.”