Hearts head coach dishes up taste of the Championship

Dale Carrick was among a host of Hearts player who came cose to scoring (library pic)
Dale Carrick was among a host of Hearts player who came cose to scoring (library pic)
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Hearts went down 1-0 in their final pre-season match to a young Cowdenbeath side, but head coach Robbie Neilson was left more than satisfied by his side’s work-out at Central Park.

In a match settled by Reece Sawyers’ 70th minute strike due to a defensive lapse by Aaron Scott, Neilson fielded two completely different teams in each half and was pleased to give his players a taste of the “Championship environment”.

“The reason we brought the team here to-night was to show the players that the environment in the Championship is completely different to that in the Premiership and so it proved on the tight Central Park surface against a compact side,” explained Neilson.

“On the game itself, I was disappointed with the result, but not so with the performance – I thought that we passed the ball well. We dominated proceedings for long spells, especially in the first half when their goalkeeper had around half a dozen fine saves. On another night we may have scored one or two.

“In contrast Neil [Alexander] in the first half and Scott [Gallacher] in the second had little to do in terms of difficult saves and if we had not made that one mistake, it’s doubtful that they would have scored at all.”

Hearts controlled the first half, with Osman Sow, Billy King and Dale Carrick all foiled by the Blue Brazil’s keeper Robbie Thomson. Such was Hearts’ dominance that Alexander didn’t touch the ball for the first 20 minutes, but the two sides went in level at the break.

Neilson changed the entire team at half-time, with Alistair Roy the latest youngster to make his bow. Hearts still had the bulk of possession with Gary Oliver, David Smith and Roy all having early efforts repelled.

Hearts, however, were caught out on 70 minutes when Scott’s pass-back to Gallacher fell short, allowing Sawyers to nip in and steer a shot home.

Liam Gordon then had a header saved as Hearts chased an equaliser, but the Fifers held on in front of a sparse crowd of 306.

Cowdenbeath: Thomson, Wright (Brand 46), Kane, Brownlie, Campbell, Callaghan, Lynas, Trialist 1, Sutherland (Sawyers 55), Trialist 2, Jurisic (Mitchell 67).

Hearts (first half): Alexander, McGhee, Ozturk, Wilson, McHattie, King, Buaben, Holt, Nicholson, Sow, Carrick.

Hearts (second half): Gallacher, L Smith, McKay, Gordon, Henderson, D Smith, Beith, Scott, Walker, Roy, Oliver.