ROBBIE NEILSON today applauded Billy King for a man-of-the-match display in Hearts’ win over Dundee United last night.
The winger was the best player on the pitch as goals by Gavin Reilly and Prince Buaben plus an Osman Sow penalty earned the Edinburgh club a 3-2 victory.
Neilson praised King for staying patient after spending much of the season on the substitutes’ bench. He also hailed goalscorer Reilly and admitted he now has a decision to make up front for Saturday’s trip to Kilmarnock with fellow striker Juanma free of suspension.
“Billy did great. He’s had to wait and he’s been frustrated at not getting a lot of game time,” said Neilson. “He’s a development player for us. He did well last season, he’s developing this year and he’ll be a big player at Hearts.
“Reilly did exactly what we wanted him to do. We brought him in because he runs over the top, he’s got pace and energy and he’s a goalscoring threat. He’s got back to doing that and he proved that with his goal. It was a great finish. Then he goes over the top against Mark Durnan and gets him sent off. That wins the game for us.
“Juanma is available for Saturday. I’ll need to think about what we do against Kilmarnock. We have a couple of guys carrying injuries and there’s fatigue as well. It’s good to have Gavin in form. It gives me an option of three guys [including Sow] who are scoring goals.”
Durnan’s red card near half-time realistically ended United’s hopes of taking anything at Tynecastle. Neilson admitted it was a good night for Hearts as second-placed Aberdeen and fourth-placed St Johnstone dropped points.
“It’s a great night for us. St Johnstone got beaten and Aberdeen drew. It gets us up the league a little bit, nearer Aberdeen and further away from St Johnstone. We lost a poor goal at the start but it was the best time to lose it. We responded really well, the crowd got behind us and went 3-1 up. Then we lost another slack goal. In the second half there was a bit of nervousness in the team. People were worrying about making a mistake and we missed a few clear chances.”
Mixu Paatelainen, the Dundee United manager, again bemoaned his team’s defensive frailties and was angry at goalkeeper Michal Szromnik for allowing Buaben’s shot through his hands.
“The goals we conceded were jokes again,” he said. “Man-marking at corner kicks we have practised and worked on but it cost us. The goal the keeper parries into his own net, we need to avoid goals like that.”
On Durnan’s red card, he added: “I saw we were sleeping prior to that and not anticipating but I haven’t seen the incident because there were bodies there and the injury happened at the same time.”
Paatelainen’s woes were compounded with defender Callum Morris – stretchered off in the first half having tweaked a medial ligament – ruled out for between three and six weeks.