Hearts address defensive issues with some players 'going through the motions'

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Hearts will spend time addressing defensive issues this week after losing two cheap goals at St Johnstone on Saturday.

Manager Robbie Neilson was unhappy at both Ali Crawford’s opener and Jamie McCart’s header in the 2-1 loss at McDiarmid Park. He wants significant improvement for this weekend’s trip to St Mirren, admitting some players seemed to go through the motions in Perth.

The Edinburgh club find themselves in a mini form slump having failed to win any of their last five matches inside 90 minutes. They will analyse St Johnstone’s goals closely in an effort to tighten up in defence.

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“The first one is not good enough. It’s right at the start of the game,” Neilson told the Evening News. “We don’t track a runner, don’t screen a cross, pretty basic stuff in football. It’s got to be better. You give them a foothold in the game and they didn’t need to work to get the goal.

Hearts players were left dejected after conceding a second goal against St Johnstone.Hearts players were left dejected after conceding a second goal against St Johnstone.
Hearts players were left dejected after conceding a second goal against St Johnstone.

“The second one we have to defend the ball better in at the back post area. Was he [McCart] offside? I thought we had kept a good line at the time but sometimes with these small margins you don’t get them.

“We didn’t play at the level we should be playing going to McDiarmid Park. It’s a different game when you go there with the surface and the way the game is played. I just felt we were a wee bit passive in our play.

“You need to be a bit more direct and a bit more aggressive. That’s not the way we want to play but sometimes, to get results, you need to play like that.

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“It’s up to us to regroup as a unit and get back going again for this week – sort the issues that are causing us a wee problem. I would expect us to be better this week. It’s a different challenge at St Mirren. They might have a new manager by Saturday, we don’t know.

“We will analyse the St Johnstone game, there are areas where we need to be better. I felt some of them were going through the motions almost on Saturday. You can’t have that in Scottish football. You need to be at it all the time you will get turned over.”

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