'It's just about beating Hibs.' Hearts manager Robbie Neilson reacts to his first ever win at Easter Road
The Tynecastle manager had never previously experienced a win in Leith either as a player or coach, adding extra edge to the fourth-round triumph. Goals from Josh Ginnelly, Lawrence Shankland and Toby Sibbick took Hearts into the fifth round despite Shankland’s late red card.
Neilson watched the match from the stand due to a touchline suspension and stated that he was not overly concerned about his personal record away to Hibs. “Aye, I’m delighted but ultimately for me it’s just about beating Hibs. It’s for the fans,” he said.
“We had 3,500 fans here today. We all know league form goes out the window in these games and it’s all about what happens in 90 minutes. We’ve managed to get it here. It’s been a while since we have won here so it’s nice to get it done.
“It’s always difficult when you come to your main rivals in the early rounds. Obviously, getting through is the main thing. Performance-wise, 3-0 potentially flattered us a wee bit. I think the game was pretty tight. It was a close game.
“They hit the post early doors, if that goes in it changes the game. But all in all the most important thing is to be in the hat and we are. I don’t think there was a lot of quality in the game, passing-wise, possession-wise or movement-wise.
“I think it came down to three moments of quality. Gino’s finish, Lawrence’s finish and then Toby’s at the end was the icing on the cake for us. It was a great result. Not the kind of performance we’re looking for but we’re not going to be that bothered because it’s about being in the next round.”
Neilson also made light of being banned from the technical area and watching from the stand. “It was fine. I’ve done it a few times. I don’t mind. [Coaches] Lee [McCulloch] and Gordon [Forrest] were running things down on the bench and the players know what they need to do.”
Shankland’s goal saw him become the first Hearts players since John Robertson in 1991/92 to score 20 times in a season. “Brilliant for him, brilliant. The first guy to text me was Robbo, looking for Shanks number. Whether that’s to congratulate or warn him, I don’t know! We’ll need to wait and see,” laughed Neilson.
“It just shows how long it’s been. I think it’s 31 years since someone hit 20 and that shows how hard it is. I always knew bringing Lawrence here, having him at Dundee United before and seeing him at Ayr United, that he scores goals. It’s up to us to create them and we’ve managed to do that. I think he’ll go on to score more.”
Shankland received two yellow cards, both for impeding Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri, which earned him a red in stoppage-time. That was the only negative on the day from Hearts’ perspective. “I’m disappointed with that. I didn’t think there was any contact. But we can’t appeal it so there’s not much we can do,” stated Neilson.