Robbie Neilson reveals the disappointment inside Hearts' dressing room after Hibs draw
Manager Robbie Neilson revealed that Tynecastle Park’s home dressing room was slightly downbeat after the goalless draw, with players feeling they could have garnered three points.
A win would have taken either side clear at the top of the cinch Premiership but a stalemate ensued thanks to some brilliant goalkeeping at both ends by Craig Gordon and Matt Macey.
“I thought it was a really good game. I actually enjoyed it,” said Neilson afterwards. “Sometimes as a manager you don't, but there's a tinge of disappointment in the dressing room because we didn't manage to take a couple of really good chances.
“When you come up [from the Championship], you never really know where you are going to be. You can talk about, ‘we're Hearts and we are going to do this and that’, but until you get into the top flight with the rest of the teams, the players have to believe.
“I felt, with the players we have put together, we would be at the top end, but they have to believe that as well. One of the things about today is there's disappointment in the dressing-room, which is a great sign.
“I've been at clubs before when they get a draw and they come in and it's like they've won the World Cup, whereas here it's disappointment. That shows me that the players believe they should be at the top end.”
On Gordon, Neilson added. “Craig made a few good saves, so all in all a really entertaining game. I think that's one of the reasons both teams are up there joint-second in the league. You know, Craig is an exceptional goalkeeper and Macey put in a great performance.
“It's just run-of-the-mill from Craig, to be honest with you. We see it every day in training. When someone has a shot, I expect him to save it.”
Having recently reclaimed his place as first-choice goalkeeper with Scotland, Neilson expects Gordon to remain there.
“If he stays injury-free, I see him staying there for the next couple of years. There are a couple of younger ones coming through but they are not at level Craig is at,” added the Hearts manager.
“He looks after himself and he's a great character. He's not got a lot of miles on the clock because he had an injury earlier in his career and I think Craig's got another two, three, maybe four years in him.”
Alongside Gordon, midfielder Beni Baningime and on-loan forward Ben Woodburn were Hearts’ most influential players. Woodburn was on international duty with Wales and only returned to Riccarton in midweek.
“To be fair to Ben, he's not really been with us that much,” said Neilson. “He came in, played against Dundee United, and then went on international duty. He came back on Thursday and he'll continue to get his fitness levels as he only played 13 minutes [with Wales]. He's got real quality.”
Hearts gave recent signing Barrie McKay a debut by replacening Woodburn on 71 minutes. “Barrie hasn't played since March and hasn't trained with a team since the end of May, so his fitness levels will improve. You can see the quality he has got,” said Neilson.