Robbie Neilson today declared he wants Hearts to win the title themselves at Tynecastle rather than relying on Hibs drawing with Rangers this Sunday.
Should Neilson’s side win at Falkirk on Saturday, a draw at Easter Road the following day would make them champions. However, Neilson stressed he would rather win the league at home to Queen of the South next weekend.
The head coach saw his team edge closer to automatic promotion last night with a 3-1 win against ten-man Raith Rovers thanks to goals from the returning Kevin McHattie, Jamie Walker and Billy King.
The result puts Hearts within touching distance of the league title, which could be confirmed depending on results over the weekend. Neilson admitted he doesn’t want the scenario where Hibs’ result secures the league for Hearts without them kicking a ball.
“I would far rather we won it at Tynecastle, to be honest. I want us to win it ourselves,” he said. “We’ve had no favours from anybody all season. We’ve done it ourselves with the work we’ve put in, the games we’ve won and the goals we’ve scored. It’s all come from us so I’d prefer it if we could give something back to the fans and win it at home.
“First and foremost we need to beat Falkirk. We don’t want to get carried away with ourselves because it will be really difficult there. They are the only team to beat us this season in the league. We need to try and get three points there and after that, what will be will be.”
Former Hearts striker Christian Nade was red carded last night for a late lunge on McHattie, which Neilson felt was the correct decision. “I know Christian and I know he doesn’t have any malice in him. He was going in for the ball but I’ve seen the scar on Kevin’s knee and you can’t tackle like that,” he said.
Underlining the importance of the win, Neilson dedicated the victory to a member of the Hearts staff who recently passed away. “It was an important game last night. We spoke to the players before because we lost one of the staff from the club, Elaine Spence, who worked in the ticket office,” he explained.
“She’s been at Hearts for years and she’s battled away for a long time. We said it was important we tried to get another win. We lost Dave Mackay a couple of weeks ago and we lost Elaine this week. The boys were wearing black armbands last night for that reason. We put in a display for her and we got three points, which was fantastic.
“It’s been a big blow to all the people at the club, on the playing side and the people in the office staff. Losing her has been hard because she’s been with the club for a long time. She had been battling illness and we hoped she’d got through it but it came back again and we lost here over the weekend.”