Steven Naismith admits Aberdeen bullied Hearts in a scathing assessment of the match at Pittodrie

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Tynecastle head coach upset after seeing a 1-0 advantage overturned

Steven Naismith admitted Aberdeen bullied Hearts to turn a 1-0 half-time deficit into a 2-1 victory at Pittodrie. The Tynecastle head coach was angry at how his players capitulated and stressed that their second-half display was not acceptable.

Lawrence Shankland's header put Hearts ahead on 20 minutes but Bojan Miovski levelled the match nine minutes after the interval. As the visitors retreated and tried to hold on, Leighton Clarkson forced a winner for Aberdeen in the second minute of stoppage-time.

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"The game starts really well, we are really confident and in full control. To be so far ahead and then be sitting here after a defeat is extremely disappointing," admitted Naismith afterwards. "We beat ourselves today, if I'm honest. After being in control for so long and doing so well, we end up getting bullied and that's inevitably what has cost us.

"As Aberdeen started going more direct, we didn't deal with the first contacts enough or the second balls. Any 50-50 duel, we didn't win enough of them. That gave them a bit of momentum. Ultimately, that's what cost us.

"If you want to be a successful team, you've got to deal with that in Scottish football. It's something that does happen a bit in games. You've got to accept it and deal with it. Aberdeen had committed a lot of bodies forward and we didn't do well enough.

"We showed so much in the first half with how well we did in possession. In the second half, we didn't do the same. That's where a good team picks off the opposition, creates better chances and scores a second goal. We didn't do that. The goals we conceded were really sloppy. We have taken a bit of credit for our defensive displays but today was nowhere near where we've been."

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Naismith explained that Hearts must address the issues which led to the late collapse. "It's a character thing. It's a control thing, when internally there is a bit of pressure. We need to deal with that," he said. "We started slashing at clearances when we've got four extra players in that area of the pitch. We didn't play.

"That you can hopefully deal with but you need to be a tough character if you want to be a successful footballer. You can't hide or shy away from these moments. We need to be that as a group over a period of time. If you're not, then you won't be successful - simple as that."

One positive for Hearts was defender Craig Halkett's return as a substitute after nearly a year out injured. For him it's a positive that he's back on the pitch, but I'm not looking at many positives here as the goals we conceded are soft.

"They are rubbish goals, they've not cut us open. It's indecision for the second one and us not dealing with 50/50s for the first one. The first 30 minutes was so good, a lot of really good stuff. The tempo we played at and a lot of what we talked about before the game happened. We're in good control and everybody is feeling good, but the game can't turn that quickly in the second half when they start pumping the ball long."

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