ROBBIE NEILSON today demanded a positive reaction from his players following Hearts’ first defeat of the season at Hamilton.
Callum Paterson’s red card left the head coach and his squad harbouring feelings of injustice after the 3-2 loss at New Douglas Park. Neilson implored them to use it as motivation.
With no game this weekend, there is plenty time to mull over events in Lanarkshire. Paterson received a straight red card from referee Willie Collum on 76 minutes, five minutes after volleying his team into a 2-1 lead. Hamilton used their extra-man advantage to carve out a win which ended Hearts’ 100 per cent start to the Premiership campaign.
Neilson admitted that a defeat would come sooner or later but argued that Paterson’s red card was ill-deserved. Collum ordered the full-back off for serious foul play after a tackle on Darian MacKinnon, a decision which ultimately cost Hearts the game.
Tynecastle officials have since decided to appeal the decision.
Neilson, meanwhile, has urged his players to use their anger positively.
“You have to use it to motivate yourself. We weren’t going to go through this season unbeaten. Nobody was. Celtic won’t, Aberdeen won’t, we won’t. Everyone will lose, it’s about how you react to it,” he told the Evening News. “We must use this as motivation and, believe me, I will. We talked about it in the dressing-room after the game and this will be getting brought up several times amongst ourselves. We’ll talk about what we need to do to win games to try and get ourselves up that league.
“You have to accept it but you also need to be able to motivate yourself. It does help that there’s a couple of weeks to stew on it. I can see that the boys are angry but they’re also hugely motivated not to let it happen again.”
The Hearts coach said he knew there was a strong possibility Collum would send someone off. “All you can do is prepare with ten men; train with ten men against ten men. You warn your players not to give him a chance to send anybody off. Don’t do anything that even might be a red card. Don’t do it. I’ve spoken to the match delegate already and given my thoughts on it – about incidents that happened on Saturday and previously. I could stand here all day and talk about things that have happened which people wouldn’t believe.
“Callum has been fantastic for us. He goes in and he wins the ball. He comes in from the side and he wins the ball. If you watch it, you can see it’s never a red card.”