Robbie Neilson reacts after Hearts face Swansea City in closed-door friendly at Tynecastle
Hearts were beaten 2-1 by Swansea City in a closed-door friendly on Tuesday afternoon as Robbie Neilson sought to get some minutes into the legs of his returning players.
Jay Fulton and Joel Piroe netted in the first-half at Tynecastle Park before Euan Henderson pulled a goal back for a rather youthful looking Hearts’ second-half side as Neilson used each period to play a completely different team.
The first-team squad have only had one training session after being granted two weeks off by the head coach following the shut down of the cinch Premiership season for the World Cup.
Players and management will all jet out to Spain on Wednesday for a week-long winter training camp in Malaga. The hope is that they’ll play another couple of games out there.
Hearts will return to Scottish top-flight action on December 17 when Kilmarnock visit Gorgie.
“It’s good to get out there and have a few of the boys running about again after two weeks off, then just the one training session and now the game today,” Neilson told Hearts TV.
“We played two 45 minutes. More experienced first half and got to get some of the kids game time as well. It was a worthy exercise.
“It’s now about getting ready for the Kilmarnock game. We’ll travel out to Spain tomorrow, get a good week’s training and hopefully a couple of fixtures out there as well.
“You could see today we’re still a wee bit rusty after two weeks off. That’s to be expected, we’ve just had one training session. I’d like to progress as the next week, ten days goes on so we’re ready to go when we’re back in.
“We definitely felt the benefits of the training camp after the summer. It gives you the chance to get out there, get together again and really kick on for the rest of the season.”
The hosts lined up in a 3-4-3 formation with Craig Halkett alongside Toby Sibbick and Stephen Kingsley in the back three. Michael Smith and Alex Cochrane were stationed at wing-back while Robert Snodgrass played with Orestis Kiomourtzoglou in the centre. Alan Forrest and Jorge Grant flanked striker Lawrence Shankland in the front three. Zander Clark played in goal in place of Craig Gordon, who has been given further time off after representing Scotland during the break.
The visitors broke the deadlock on 12 minutes. Fulton, son of former Hearts’ cup-winning hero Stevie, slipped through the Hearts defence after a quick, one-touch move and swept a finish beyond Clark.
Swansea doubled their advantage two minutes later from a set-piece. Ryan Manning, who won the corner, crossed and Piroe was lurking on the edge of the area to score with a well-placed effort.
The likes of Lewis Neilson, Finlay Pollock and Connor Smith were introduced at the break and the young Jam Tarts pulled one back on 69 minutes. Henderson caught out goalkeeper Andy Fisher straying from his line, enabling the forward to round the stranded custodian and pass the ball into an empty net.