Robbie Neilson: BBC expected Hearts to lose but winning penalty was correct call

Robbie Neilson stated that BBC Scotland showed Hearts’ match at Ayr United because they expected the Edinburgh club to lose.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson spoke with referee Steven McLean at half-time.Hearts manager Robbie Neilson spoke with referee Steven McLean at half-time.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson spoke with referee Steven McLean at half-time.

However, a second-half Liam Boyce penalty earned three points at Somerset Park in the live Friday night Championship match.

Neilson insisted the award was correct despite Andy Halliday’s cross ball ricocheting on to Jack Baird’s arm via the Ayr captain’s thigh.

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“People talk about rule changes but if the ball gets delivered from 40 yards and hits the boy’s hand, it’s a penalty-no matter if it comes off his thigh or toe first,” he said.

“If it gets hit from two or three yards it’s a different story. The way the players reacted tells a story.

“A win’s a win. It wasn’t the most entertaining and the conditions made it difficult. Second half we knew we’d get more of the ball with the wind behind us and we got more control and ultimately the victory.

“It’s massive to get Friday night wins. We spoke before the game asking why is BBC taking Heats at Ayr United on a Friday night? It’s because they expect us to get beat.

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“I told them we have to show we are good enough to go and handle that and get a result.

“We did that. Now it puts pressure on the teams that play on Saturday and have to catch up.”

Ayr manager Mark Kerr was unimpressed at Hearts complaining to referee Steven McLean over decisions. The protests earned Neilson a first-half caution and he spoke with McLean at length during half-time.

“I have only seen it quickly but it doesn’t look like a penalty and it’s not great,” said Kerr when asked about the award against Baird.

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“I just think the behaviour on the side before that, I don’t think it influenced the referee because any handball seems to be given just now, but it is hard to take.

“It would be unfair on the referee to say he was influenced by that. Sometimes you think when you behave like that it would go against you, but it has actually worked for them.”

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