Robbie Neilson has his say on Hearts red card plus injury latest on Lawrence Shankland, Alex Cochrane, Andy Halliday

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson is unclear why he was red carded by referee David Munro during Friday’s 1-0 win against St Mirren.
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He finished the match in the stand after two yellow cards for protesting as Barrie McKay’s solitary goal propelled Hearts six points clear in third place. “There’s nothing you can do about it. You’re dealing with referees and some are good and some are bad,” said Neilson. “I have just spoken to him [Munro] in there and I still don’t know the reason for it.

“Some referees you can talk to, some you can have a bit of rapport with. Some have got personality and can talk and understand it. And then there’s others who don’t have any of that. Unfortunately for me I think it was the latter this evening.

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“The fourth official [Graham Beaton] was brilliant, he was really good. I don’t want to detract from the performance with the referee’s decision. It’s part of football. I’ll take it on the chin. I’ll know the next time we have him I’ll need to start in the stand.”

St Mirren manager Stephen Robinson and Hearts coach Gordon Forrest were also seen arguing in the technical area. “They’re fine, it’s part and parcel and if it was me I would have sent both of them off,” joked Neilson. He was more concerned with injuries to striker Lawrence Shankland, defender Alex Cochrane and midfielder Andy Halliday.

“Lawrence rolled his ankle but will be fine, Alex Cochrane had a tight hamstring. He felt it at half-time but we told him to try it. We’ve got a big game on Wednesday [against Aberdeen] so we took him off. Andy got a head knock so he will he assess with regards to Wednesday.”

A dominant debut by Bournemouth loanee James Hill was a highlight for Hearts. “I was delighted with James, I thought he was outstanding,” said Neilson. “For a kid who has not played for a while, to come up here and play in front of 20,000 people, in possession he was outstanding with some of the switches of play and out of possession he was top – winning headers and being aggressive.”

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Robinson felt let down after a late VAR review denied St Mirren a penalty when the ball appeared to strike Hearts defender Kye Rowles’ arm inside the box.

Hearts manager Robbie Neilson argues with the fourth official and is shown a red card against St Mirren.Hearts manager Robbie Neilson argues with the fourth official and is shown a red card against St Mirren.
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson argues with the fourth official and is shown a red card against St Mirren.

“I’ve been told it was a penalty and it was similar to other penalties that have been given recently,” bemoaned the Northern Irishman. “All we want is a bit of clarity. It’s not the referees’ fault. There are all these people sitting watching, but they are not calling the referee over.

“When you look at some of the penalties give, it’s incredible. I think the ruling is wrong, so it’s not just about my team. I have no idea what’s going on. It’s soul-destroying at times because you don’t know what they will and won’t look at.

“All the managers feel the same. Keanu Baccus’ yellow card was also incredible and it left him walking a tight rope. We deserved the minimum of a point. It was the best 90 minutes of the season.

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“To play two games against a team of that calibre and only take one point is devastating because the boys deserved more. We’re down to the bare bones and bringing on 17-year-olds, yet we are matching if not bettering Hearts. It’s hard to take.”