Robbie Neilson believes Hearts showed their title rivals how much winning the Championship means with Saturday’s victory at Queen of the South.
Genero Zeefuik’s deflected winner settled a tight game in Dumfries and Neilson said his team proved that they are prepared to just keep on winning.
The 2-1 victory was secured with Zeefuik’s goal six minutes from time, ensuring Hearts have won both matches at Palmerston Park after a 3-0 win there in October. They remain 20 points clear at the top of the league after proving their mettle at one of the Scottish Championship’s toughest venues. Neilson, the Hearts head coach, stressed other teams playing catch-up, such as Hibs and Rangers, would have been hoping for the Edinburgh club to slip up at Palmerston. Taking three points outlined their relentless pursuit of first place.
“All the other teams would be looking at it and saying, ‘difficult place, let’s see if they go and win there’. And we did,” he told the Evening News. “It’s another game down. Now we have two home games coming up [against Cowdenbeath and Dumbarton]. We’ll be really focused and hopefully we will get two full houses to help us get six points. That would be another huge step.
“Only ourselves, Hibs and Cowdenbeath have won at Palmerston this season. Queen of the South have only lost three games at home. They’ve beaten Rangers, they’ve beaten St Johnstone, they’ve beaten Hibs. For us to get six points out of six in Dumfries is fantastic. If we want to win the title, then it’s games like that we need to win.”
After Danny Carmichael put Queen of the South ahead, Billy King produced a fine equaliser for Hearts. Zeefuik’s late winner deflected off Chris Higgins on 84 minutes, by which time Neilson was preparing to change his team to push for the win.
“The first half was tight. We gave away the goal and then we showed courage to get back into it,” he said. “I always felt we’d create chances to win it in the second half. I was just about to bring Osman Sow and Sam Nicholson when we scored.
“We then decided to leave Sam off but it’s important in these games that we go and win. We have to win every game.”