Neilson praises Paterson as Hearts progress in cup

Kevin McHattie hails Callum Paterson (No.2) after he set up Hearts' winner as they battled past a resolute Forfar at Station Park. Pic: SNS

Kevin McHattie hails Callum Paterson (No.2) after he set up Hearts' winner as they battled past a resolute Forfar at Station Park. Pic: SNS

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ROBBIE NEILSON praised Callum Paterson’s impact at Station Park last night as the defender helped push Hearts into the League Cup third round.

Paterson came on as a substitute against Forfar and played in an unusual central midfield role. He was heavily involved in both Hearts goals, which secured a 2-1 win after extra-time.

An inspired display by the Forfar goalkeeper Rab Douglas kept the visitors at bay but eventually goals by Kevin McHattie and Gavin Reilly took them through.

“Paterson gives you power, pace and energy,” said Neilson, who made seven changes to his starting line-up. “We put him on in central midfield to give us a bit of drive. Sean McKirdy did great but he started to tire a bit. Callum gives us a bit more energy and physique as well. He drives forward for the first goal and then he hits the shot for the second. He did really well.

“We made a lot of changes. When you bring one or two in, they fit in with the flow but when you bring seven in, it does disrupt things a bit. At times I thought we did okay but we were still forcing things at times. You get that with guys coming in who haven’t played a lot of games. They want to be the one who makes the killer pass or goal instead of working as a team. We need to get back to doing that.”

Neilson added that Douglas, aged 43, was a huge factor in Forfar’s resistance. “Big Rab was rolling back the years and he was different class with some great saves,” said the Hearts head coach. “We were a wee bit wasteful with some of our chances but credit to Forfar. They’ve got three or four of their regular starters out and they pushed us right to the wire. At one point the game could’ve gone either way but we’re in the hat now and we move on.”

Dick Campbell, the Forfar manager, was sent to the stand during the game and saw two of his players – Danny Denholm and Kevin Nicoll – ordered off. “Credit to Hearts but I didn’t think they were red cards. I’ve spoken to the referee, I’ve not fallen out with him,” said Campbell. “Our players were excellent. We had first-team regulars missing and big Rab couldn’t kick the ball, that’s why we had defenders taking goal kicks. Rab was excellent but I thought Hearts deserved it.”