The Tynecastle side return from the winter break this coming Tuesday with a five-point lead in third place after an impressive first-half of the campaign.
The head coach talked to the Scarves Around The Funnel podcast prior to the restart. He was quizzed about his feelings on the season to this point and where the team can go from here.
When asked to name his favourite moment, he immediately went back to the first match of the campaign when Souttar’s late header got the newly-promoted side off to a flyer, sparking an 11-game unbeaten run in the cinch Premiership.
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Neilson explained how it reminded him of his first season in charge of Hearts in his initial spell as manager, while also picking out another moment which gave him a lot of joy.
“Probably the highlight, at least one of the bigger ones, was John Souttar scoring the winner against Celtic on the opening day of the season. That was a huge goal for us,” he said.
“It reminded me a bit of the opening day of the 2014/15 season when Osman Sow scored the winner at Ibrox. What it does is give the team, the club and everyone associated with it belief that we can beat these teams.
“And one of the other highlights was at the other end. Craig Gordon’s quadruple save at Livingston [Hearts won 1-0] and his celebration after it. It showed what it meant to big Craigy to keep the ball out of the net for Hearts.”
Neilson was also asked to select his worse moment. He opted for the match which ended his side’s unbeaten start to the campaign.
“Probably the Aberdeen game up there,” he admitted. “I was in the stand for that game, midway up the Aberdeen stand, and it was a real frustration because we didn’t turn up that day. It was a frustrating performance because, prior to that, we’d done really well away from home. Probably that was the main one.”