HEARTS players have been told to take criticism on the chin after last night’s Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Hibs.
Head coach Robbie Neilson has warned his squad that flak will be coming their way after defeat in the fifth-round replay at Easter Road.
Jason Cummings’ early goal settled the tie following a 2-2 draw at Tynecastle in the first match. Cummings and Blazej Augustyn were both sent off 15 minutes from the end, but Hibs held on to secure a quarter-final place against Inverness Caledonian Thistle.
Neilson admitted criticism is inevitable after such a disappointing loss and stressed everyone at Tynecastle must accept it.
“The boys are devastated,” he told the Evening News. “They have to deal with all the flak that’s going to come in the next couple of days and they have to get ready to go again.
“The second-half performance was great. We dominated the game, created numerous chances but didn’t take them. That’s football. Sometimes it doesn’t happen for you. It didn’t happen for us last night. It was a huge game for us but we move on. We need to go to Dundee United in the league on Saturday and push Aberdeen for that second place.”
Hearts feel aggrieved at Augustyn’s dismissal. The Pole received a second yellow card from referee John Beaton for throwing the ball away. “It’s never a red card or a second booking,” said Neilson.
“I spoke to the referee and he said he saw the movement of the ball coming back in and he saw the Hibs player’s reaction. He decided to send Blazej off with a second yellow. That’s disappointing because we can’t appeal it. We just have to accept it. He said he’ll have a look at it and speak to me. What that’s going to do, I don’t know.
“The Cummings one, I think he kicks the ball away so again it’s up to the referee. Once he sends one off, he’s more inclined to send another one off. That’s not going to change the result for us.
“I’m obviously disappointed as it was a big game for us – for the players, for the club – and we’ve failed to get through it. We have to accept it and take it on the chin – that’s football. We had good periods of play in the second half and created chances but we didn’t take them. We’re still building as a team, we’ve still got a long, long way to go and I think last night proves it.”
Abiola Dauda and Juanma Delgado both had the ball in the net for Hearts but were thwarted by offside flags. “We’ve had two goals chalked off and a man sent off,” continued Neilson. “We battled away and kept going, pushing and pushing to try and get a result but we didn’t manage it in the end. Now we need to bounce back. I’ve not seen the disallowed goals back yet but it’s not going to make any difference now. We’re out the cup and disappointed. Now we need to focus on the league.
“This tie for us was probably lost in the last ten minutes at Tynecastle. We didn’t see it out. We lost two goals and had to come here. We lost a poor goal to start but then I thought we fought back well. We just didn’t manage to get the ball in the net when it wasn’t offside.”