Robbie Neilson blames lack of supporters for flat second-half Hearts performance in win over Ross County

Robbie Neilson believes the lack of supporters inside Tynecastle Park contributed heavily to a nervy ending in the Boxing Day win over Ross County.

By Craig Fowler
Sunday, 26th December 2021, 6:47 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th December 2021, 6:47 pm
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson gives out instructions during the 2-1 win over Ross County at Tynecastle Park. Picture: SNS
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson gives out instructions during the 2-1 win over Ross County at Tynecastle Park. Picture: SNS

The hosts started excellently with two goals in a dominant first-half performance as Michael Smith and Ben Woodburn struck before the break. It looked like it was going to be a routine victory but County threw everything at their opponents towards the end of the game after Jordan White had brought them level.

It was the first game behind closed doors in the league this season as Hearts opted not to try and sort which season-tickets holders would receive the 500 tickets capped by the latest government restrictions in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Hearts head coach reckons it was inevitable the lack of atmosphere was going to get to his players at some point as they failed to maintain their intensity levels from the opening period.

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“I don’t know what’s going on with the decision makers, quite honestly. But ideally you have fans here because, as you see today, that’s not really enjoyable, is it?

“I’m sure fans sitting in the house, watching it on their laptops or the TV, that second half will have been a bit of a drag. Whereas when you’re here, there’s intensity, “there’s enjoyment. So we need that. How long it’s going to be, I don’t know.

“The early goal and bringing that energy to the game from the start. Usually, the crowd roars and everyone gets going but we ran out there and it was flat as a pancake so the players had to bring the energy. Thankfully, they managed to do that but it is almost impossible to do that throughout the whole game without the fans beside you. We knew that it would be like that.

“I thought in the first half we played really well and should have been up by more but when it’s 2-0, I know it's a cliche, the next goal is always the most important. We didn't get it, Ross County did and it became a bit edgy at the end. But today was about getting the three points and we knew that would be difficult with no fans here.”

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