Robbie Neilson: Hearts can’t afford any let-up

Robbie Neilson at Riccarton. Pic: SNS
Robbie Neilson at Riccarton. Pic: SNS
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Robbie Neilson has warned Hearts they must keep winning every week to challenge for the Championship title after starting the season with an inspired victory over Rangers.

The head coach is determined to build on Sunday’s 2-1 win at Ibrox but is anxious that the good work is not undone by defeats against smaller clubs.

Hearts host Hibs this Sunday before facing Raith Rovers, Falkirk, Dumbarton and Cowdenbeath in their next four league fixtures. Confidence is high following the win in Glasgow and Neilson stressed today that his players must keep momentum or risk tripping themselves up.

He is already focusing on the Edinburgh derby in an effort to ensure Hearts take six points from six in their first two league games. “Winning at Ibrox isn’t going to define our season, there’s still a long way to go. We were back in training yesterday to focus on the Hibs game. Rangers is done and dusted,” Neilson told the Evening News.

“There’s no point winning at Ibrox and then getting beaten at Dumbarton or getting beaten at Cowdenbeath. We must keep winning. In that sense, this season is relentless. We need to keep winning and winning and winning.”

Belief has risen considerably at Riccarton after taking three points from Rangers, particularly given the manner of victory. Nicky Law’s 90th-minute equaliser seemed to have secured a draw before Osman Sow produced a stunning winner for Hearts seconds later.

“We had so much strength and winning that game gives them belief,” continued Neilson. “Winning games instils confidence and belief in what we’re trying to do at Hearts because we’ve changed things. We’ve changed training sessions and there’s quite a load on the players at the moment with double and triple sessions.

“We’ve asked them to buy into it and they’ve bought into it. This win just gives them even more confidence that we’re doing the right things.

“I went to Ibrox to watch the Hibs game [in the Petrofac Training Cup] last week. The crowd was 18,000 and it was a pretty flat atmosphere. Sunday was a full house and our players handled it so well. They kept to the gameplan, which was to try and stifle things for an hour and then it would open up. And it did open up. We had to keep strong and eventually we could start playing the ball about and we did.”

• HEARTS have sold all home tickets for Sunday’s Edinburgh derby.