Robbie Neilson wants a permanent Hearts deal for Stephen Humphrys and admits he hasn't seen a better goal
Hearts manager Robbie Neilson admitted he hasn’t seen a better goal than Stephen Humphrys’ 60-yard screamer against Dundee United, labelling it easily worth Goal of the Season.
The Englishman launched a shot from inside his own half in the dying seconds with his allegedly weaker left foot, and was soon celebrating as the ball soared over United goalkeeper Mark Birighitti into the net. That rounded off a 3-1 victory for Hearts, who fell behind to Steven Fletcher’s early opener before Lawrence Shankland and Alex Cochrane put them 2-1 ahead.
Humphrys’ outrageous strike was comfortably the standout moment of the afternoon at Tynecastle Park. “I’ve been here for a long time and seen a lot of games over the years but I can’t think of a better goal to be honest with you. It was an unbelievable finish,” said Neilson.
“As soon as it left his boot we all thought it had a chance, it’s over the keeper, it was dipping and time kind of slowed down a bit. It was outstanding and I’m delighted for him. Firstly he is a brilliant boy, he has been brilliant for the dressing-room and the group. He has been a wee bit in and out but you saw when he comes on what he can give you.
“The goal shows you both sides of him: Pace, power, strength but also the finesse to have that final finish. I think goal of the season is now done in Scottish football. I think it will definitely be over social media tonight. To be fair he can hit a ball – left foot, right foot. No matter what foot he hits with he can smash the ball.”
Humphrys has become a cult hero since arriving on loan from Wigan Athletic last August and Neilson would love to sign him permanently. “He is a really good character. The boys love him and so do the fans because he is different to what we’ve got there. I’m over the moon for him. I would love to keep him longer term but he is a Wigan player and has a contract down there [until 2024] so it will ultimately come down to them.”
Josh Ginnelly’s late red card left the manager frustrated with referee Nick Walsh. The winger got two cautions in succession for time-wasting and then sarcastically applauding Walsh for that first booking. “I thought it was so poor. I tried to talk to the referee but he didn’t want to speak to me,” said Neilson.
“I thought it was terrible. Dundee United were down to ten but they time wasted all day. Two or three times the referee warned them. We did it once and he gets the yellow card out – desperate to do it.
“The second one, yes, you can’t clap him, but Nick Walsh is an experienced referee and the first one for me was handled very poorly. We pay the price as we have a man suspended now. If we go through the right processes we might get an answer from him, maybe if we see him sneaking out.”
The United manager Liam Fox stressed he was proud of his players having led 1-0 for so long following Ryan Edwards’ 28th-minute red card for a tackle on Hearts midfielder Andy Halliday. “The referee said it was excessive force. I just thought it was a good tackle. Maybe I’m getting old, but that’s a normal tackle in my day.”