Robbie Neilson insisted today that Hearts have had a positive start in the Ladbrokes Premiership as they sit third after four matches. Tony Watt’s last-minute goal secured a 2-1 win at Partick Thistle on Saturday, propelling the Edinburgh club to within two points of the league summit.
Critics rounded on Neilson and his players after defeat to Celtic in the opening league game. That was sandwiched between a European loss against Birkirkara and a League Cup exit to St Johnstone. However, Hearts’ fortunes have taken a dramatic upturn since.
They drew 0-0 at Aberdeen before beating Inverness 5-1 last weekend. Saturday’s victory prompted Neilson to declare the opening period of the campaign an overall success.
“We’ve played four league games now and we’ve played last season’s first and second in the league – Aberdeen and Celtic. We’re sitting in third position, so it’s a good start,” he told the Evening News.
“People looked at it right at the start and said it was a poor start to the season. Two games later, we’re sitting third and we’ve already played the top two from last year. We now go into a run of games where we want to keep winning.
“Saturday was really important for us because we got three points. St Johnstone, Aberdeen, Rangers and Ross County all dropped points over the weekend. They’re the teams in and around that area round about us.
“The manner in which we got the three points is huge. When you score that last-minute goal, it’s great. We’d worked and pressed and passed the ball and tried to get through. We couldn’t break Partick down. We had opportunities to take shots at goal and, to be fair, their goalkeeper made some good saves.
“To get that winner and three points is a great lift. Possibly it’s the kind of fortune we didn’t get in the first couple of games.”