Robbie Neilson explains why Hearts can be more adventurous in their attacking play

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson believes his team can be more adventurous in attack thanks to Craig Gordon’s brilliance at the opposite end.

Saturday, 2nd April 2022, 5:55 pm

The veteran goalkeeper produced a breathtaking double save to keep his team level during the 1-1 draw with Ross County in Dingwall. First he pushed Jordan Tillson’s shot onto the post before reacting to block Ross Callachan’s follow-up attempt.

Having such a reliable No.1 gives Hearts a sense of security which, according to Neilson, allows them to go forward more freely.

“We come to expect that from Craig,” said the manager. “One of the reasons we can be quite expansive is that we know it's going to take a decent effort to beat him. We have a good goalkeeper so we can work to be more expansive up front.

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Robbie Neilson gives instructions to Hearts players at Ross County.

“It was an entertaining game but I expected that. Ross County are chasing the top six and both teams want to win the game, so it was quite open. It probably could have gone either way.

Alex Iacovitti scored first for Ross County before their captain, Jack Baldwin, deflected Barrie McKay’s shot into his own net. “It will probably take ten minutes on Sportscene just to show all the chances,” added Neilson.

“We want to try and entertain and we have players who can do that. We started the game really well, missed the penalty, missed another chance, Ross County came into the game.

“They put us under a lot of pressure for a period and got the goal. We managed to get it back level and then in the second half it was pretty even going back and forward. We had around 2,000 fans up here and I think they have gone away having been entertained.”

McKay’s early penalty was saved by County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw with the scoreline blank. “We had a penalty and Liam Boyce had a chance where he should score. We could have been 2-0 up with 20 minutes gone and it's a different game,” said Neilson. “You get days when you don't take these chances but the important thing is we create them.”

After preserving a 14-point advantage as the Premiership’s third-placed side, Hearts now enter back-to-back Edinburgh derbies against Hibs in the league and Scottish Cup.

"We spoke before the game about focusing on today,” explained Neilson. “When you play for Hearts, you can't think about games further down the line. You have to win today. You need to put in a performance and, to the players' credit, they did. Now it's all eyes on the first derby. We hope to get as many players fit as we can.

“Ross County are one of the better teams in the league and we still came here, dominated and created a lot of chances despite the injuries we've got. We don't have a big squad but we do have a strong squad.

“Two of the guys who came on, Ben Woodburn and Josh Ginnelly, would probably start for most teams in this league. We don't have any concerns about them.”

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