Robbie Neilson reveals his thoughts on Scott Brown clash after angry exchange between Hearts manager and Aberdeen captain at Tynecastle
The pair had to be separated at full-time after complaining to referee Bobby Madden about some contentious issues during a frantic 90 minutes.
Neilson headed back towards the tunnel while Brown walked over to the 1,300 travelling fans, who watched Liam Boyce’s penalty for Hearts cancelled out by Funso Ojo’s first Aberdeen goal.
“Both teams, both players, there was a we bit edge on the game, as there always is here. There were a few words said but from our perspective it’s done and dusted,” said Neilson.
“I think it’s brilliant isn’t it? I thought the intensity of the game was great. We have been away from 18 months and you want a game like that for the first one with the fans back – where everyone is fighting, everyone is after it, the intensity of the game is there. Yes, we would have liked three points, but I thought it was great.”
Emotions ran high with a 17,449 crowd inside Tynecastle for the first time since March 2020. “I don’t think we saw any of that [aggro] last season when there were no fans here, maybe a couple of times. But that is part of the passion of football,” added Neilson.
“The players, the coaching staff, haven’t been used to that recently. I think when it comes everybody is at it, everybody is desperate to go. I have watched this season there are a number of managers getting yellow cards, players getting yellow cards, just because of that intensity. We are just getting back used to having it there to settle us down.”
Neilson felt Hearts’ first-half performance waned after the interval but declared himself satisfied with seven points from the opening nine. The Edinburgh club beat Celtic and St Mirren in their first two Premiership fixtures and remain joint-top of the league alongside Aberdeen and Hibs.
Midfielder Beni Baningime received praise from the manager after another dominant performance. “We knew what we were getting, but I didn’t think he would be at the level he is at already.
“We thought we would need to develop him more, develop certain aspects of his game. But today I thought he was the best midfielder on the pitch. He handles the ball, picks up good areas on the pitch, gets people forward. For us it’s just about maybe getting some goals into his game as well but I am delighted with him.
“I think it’s a brilliant start. To be sitting top of the league. We go to Dundee United next week and if we get a good result up there we can maybe get to ten and be on top of the league again. It’s been great, but there are 35 games to go.”
Hearts want to ease Boyce's workload over the coming weeks. “If you want to be top end of the league you need a goalscorer who’s going to get you 20 goals a season. He’s got six already,” said Neilson.
“We just to keep him fit and we need competition in there. We’ll have Armand Gnanduillet back this week, so we can rotate a bit because we ask a lot of Liam.”