ROBBIE NEILSON won’t allow his Hearts side to get carried away with being joint top of the Premiership table because he feels they were fortunate not to lose to Dundee on Saturday.
The Tynecastle side made it a perfect six points from their first two games in the top flight after they came from behind to win 2-1 at Dens Park courtesy of a second-half double from man-of-the-moment Juanma Delgado.
However, despite all the euphoria among the club’s supporters after a dream start to life in the Premiership, head coach Neilson’s enthusiasm is tempered slightly by a realisation that his side would have been beaten had Dundee been able to capitalise on their dominance following on an early opener from Kane Hemmings.
“It’s nice to be joint top of the league, but we’re not getting carried away,” he told the Evening News. “If Dundee took their chances in the first half, they would have beaten us, end of story. They had four or five great chances and, if they scored them, we’d have gone away with nothing. Thankfully they didn’t, but that’s the fine margins in football. We need to be realistic – we got the rub of the green in the first half. In the second half, we were far superior but we need to do that for ninety minutes. On the second-half performance, we deserved to win, but not on the first-half performance. A draw would probably have been a fairer result.”
Neilson was unhappy with his players’ first-half application and gave them a half-time dressing down. The head coach insists he won’t tolerate the type of display he witnessed in the first half and expects his team to maintain the standard they showed after the interval.
“This club is about people and players that work hard and earn things,” he said. “First and foremost, you have to work hard and I didn’t think we worked as hard as we should in the first half. We were second to a lot of balls. We were far superior in the second half. We were far more aggressive and on the front foot.”
Nigerian left-back Juwon Oshaniwa made his eagerly-awaited debut on Saturday after a protracted summer transfer to Hearts. He lasted 75 minutes before cramp forced him off but is expected to be available for Wednesday’s Premiership clash with Motherwell at Tynecastle.
“He was just cramping up – he’s fine, though,” said Neilson. “He was wanting to go back on but I felt we needed fresh energy on the pitch. I was delighted with him. That was his first game since the start of May and he’s only trained with us for a week. He’s tenacious, aggressive and strong – and he’s a winner. He’s a great character who wants to do well. He was right in the thick of it in the lead-up to the second goal. He’s like that, he just wants to win.”