Ross County win proof of Hearts learning how to 'win ugly', reckons Jambos star

Hearts midfielder Andy Halliday believes the Boxing Day win over Ross County is proof the Tyncastle side have learned how learned how to win ugly this cinch Premiership season.

By Craig Fowler
Tuesday, 28th December 2021, 7:00 am
Andy Halliday goes up against Ross County's Connor Randall during the 2-1 win at Tynecastle on Boxing Day. Picture: SNS
Andy Halliday goes up against Ross County's Connor Randall during the 2-1 win at Tynecastle on Boxing Day. Picture: SNS

Robbie Neilson’s men won the game 2-1 as the hosts were able to ride Michael Smith and Ben Woodburn's first-half goals all the way to victory despite Jordan White pulling one back on 72 minutes and the visitors exerting significant pressure in the closing stages.

The result keeps Hearts five points clear in third place going into the winter break, though there have been a few instances this campaign where the newly-promoted side blew opportunities to make that advantage over the chasing ‘best-of-the-rest’ hopefuls an even stronger one.

“I mentioned after the Livingston game, we look back at some of the points we’ve dropped, the likes of Ross County away and Dundee at home, games we felt we dominated for 90 minutes,” said Halliday. “I thought Livingston away was one of the first times where we’ve shown as a team that we can win ugly, and I thought it was a bit more of the same today.

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“I thought first half we were really good, controlled the game, had umpteen chances. We’ve always said we’ve got to be a team that is clinical.

“Like they always say, 2-0 is a funny score line. We should really put our foot on the gas in the second half and shut the game up, but all credit to Ross County, I thought they were really positive in the second half and caused us a lot of problems, but thankfully we’ve held on for the three points.

“I just think winning ugly is important for any side. We see it with the best sides in the world, it’s the sign of a good side that you can win when you’re not playing at your best and I don’t think we done that until Livingston and then we followed it up today.

“I thought the first half was good, but a complete contrast to the second half, we allowed slackness to creep in. We didn’t play the passing game like we did in the first half, and we allowed Ross County to pen us in for the last 20-25 minutes, that’s not the team we want to be, but I think anyone will tell you that the three points is the more important thing.”

The match in Gorgie was the first league fixtures this season where fans haven’t been allowed to attend. The club took the decision to play behind closed-doors after government restrictions came back into force due to the spread of the Omicron variant of Covid-19, limiting crowds at outdoor events to just 500.

Halliday, echoing the words of his manager, doesn’t believe the second-half performance would’ve been as sloppy if it was played in front of a packed stadium.

“I can’t stress enough that no footballer wants to play in that,” he said.

“As much as the second half is down to us I don’t think that quite happens if it’s a full house. They’ll let you know once you make two or three bad passes and it’s time to get your concentration levels. If in three weeks time the stands are full again I’m all for it but I’m not hopeful.”

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