Craig Levein hails Hearts players for spirit in Accies clash

Hearts players celebrate after Jamie Walker's goal against Hamilton. Pic: SNS
Hearts players celebrate after Jamie Walker's goal against Hamilton. Pic: SNS
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Whilst still bemoaning the injustice of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Hamilton, the Hearts manager Craig Levein today praised his players’ fighting spirit with only ten men.

The Tynecastle club are set to fine teenager Jamie Brandon for the first-half elbow on Accies striker Antonio Rojano which earned him a red card. That left the hosts facing a numerical disadvantage against the robust Lanarkshire side.

Craig Levein was disappointed with the 1-1 draw but pleased with his team's fighting spirit. Pic: SNS

Craig Levein was disappointed with the 1-1 draw but pleased with his team's fighting spirit. Pic: SNS

Levein and his assistant Austin MacPhee were both ordered to the stand by referee Bobby Madden during a chaotic second half. Jamie Walker struck an exquisite free-kick before Xavier Tomas headed the visitors level at Tynecastle Park.

Levein is still smarting from Madden’s poor officiating but won’t waste time trying to reason with the referee or his superiors at the Scottish Football Association.

Instead, he focused on a defiant Hearts display with plenty fight and resilience against the odds.

“We gave ourselves a mountain to climb and we’ll deal with Jamie accordingly,” he told the Evening News. “He left us in a difficult situation. You only need to look at Hamilton’s recent record to see they’re playing well just now. They won 2-0 at Ibrox a couple of weeks ago.

Jamie Brandon's red card gave Hearts "a mountain to climb". Pic: SNS

Jamie Brandon's red card gave Hearts "a mountain to climb". Pic: SNS

“I thought, before the sending off, we limited them to next to nothing. We weren’t playing brilliantly because we hadn’t got our passing game going but we looked the more likely team. I was feeling reasonably comfortable.

“I knew it was going to be a tough match. It always is against Hamilton, but the sending off changes everything. Great credit to the boys for the way they dug in. We scored and then they got a goal from a set-piece, which was infuriating.

“We had chances to sneak it right at the death, Cole Stockton had a chance, so all in all it was a pretty eventful game. I thought the supporters were great. They stuck behind us and saw how hard the players were trying.

“We tried to go forward and create opportunities. Jamie Walker scored a fantastic goal and we had some really good performances yet again. But, deary me, it’s hard work.”

Asked if he planned to speak to Madden about any of the decisions, Levein replied: “What’s the point? We had a different situation last week [against Ross County] because we couldn’t put the ball in the back of the net. This week, it seemed every decision went against us. We got yellow cards for things that Hamilton players weren’t getting yellow cards for.

“Christophe Berra was taken out on the touchline and the player wasn’t even spoken to, it wasn’t even given as a foul. Some of the decisions were bizarre. I really don’t understand what was going on.”