HEARTS head coach Robbie Neilson declared their four-day pre-season trip to England a success as the team arrived back in Edinburgh last night following a 2-1 win over Dinamo Bucharest.
Scorers: Dinamo Bucharest - Bilinski (14); Hearts - Nicholson (2), Oliver (23)
News that Scott Robinson had not suffered a fractured shin – as initially feared – also enhanced the mood.
The initial signs did not look good after the 22-year-old, who was ordered off in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to Bulgarian champions Ludogorets Razgrads, was stretchered off and taken to hospital for x-rays following a first-half collision.
But Robinson was told by doctors that his leg was nothing more than badly bruised under the muscle.
Robbie Neilson’s side overcame the Romanians after first-half goals by Sam Nicholson and Gary Oliver sandwiched an equaliser by Kamil Bilinski.
Their task was made easier after the break when Dinamo captain Laurentiu Rus lost his cool and was ordered off for shoving the English referee.
Playing at Leigh Sports Village, the match provided Neilson with the chance to run the rule over former Dundee United midfielder Prince Bauben, who was introduced at half-time, following the Ghanian’s recent departure at Carlisle. One-time Hibs youngster Lee Currie made his second appearance as a trialist following his midweek run-out.
Speaking after naming two completely different teams in either half, Neilson said: “The trip has been pleasing with the way they’ve taken things on board. Coming down here for four days has been good. It’s given us a chance to focus on things with double and triple sessions.”
On the prospect of Bauben and Currie signing, Neilson added: “I’ve spoken to Prince about coming back up so hopefully he will come up some time next week because he’s not done anything at all.
“He trained with us on Saturday and then that was his first game.
“He’s only had two days of training so he needs a lot more. I thought he did well though. He’ll probably come up, we’ll see him in training and a game and make a decision on him.
“We’ll also speak to Lee, he will come back in on Monday and we’ll have a chat with him and see what we’re thinking.”
The match was delayed for half an hour after the venue was switched at the last minute due to the concerns of both teams over a pitch that bore the scars of a shot-put competition.
But the players and small band of travelling fans from Edinburgh did not have to travel far, the game still taking place within the confines of Leigh Sports Village.
Former Hearts captain Steven Pressley and his Coventry City assistant manager Neil MacFarlane, also formally of the Tynecastle outfit, were among the spectators at Hearts’ second game of their pre-season campaign. Donning their new Argentina-style away kit, Neilson’s young charges took the lead inside two minutes through Nicholson.
Billy King’s cross caused panic in the Bucharest defence and Nicholson latched on to the loose ball to lift it over goalkeeper Alexandru Marc from close range.
The Romanians caught Hearts napping after 14 minutes to draw level. Valentin Lazar latched on to a quick free kick and got goal side of Callum Paterson before squaring for Kamil Bilinski to tap into the unguarded goal.
Hearts were beaten 5-1 by yesterday’s opponents in a friendly in Leigh almost exactly a year ago but they regained the lead after 23 minutes.
Following patient build-up play, Robinson fed Jamie Walker, who spun away from his marker before unleashing a powerful shot that was only parried by Marc. Oliver pounced on the rebound and slammed an effort into the net.
The only low point of the first period was the injury sustained by Robinson, who was replaced by Angus Beith.
A gathering of Romanian fans made themselves noticed after setting off fireworks at half-time before before being promptly ejected.
The friendly turned into something of a farce three minutes into the restart when Dinamo captain Rus was ordered of for shoving the English referee.
After reluctantly leaving the field, Dinamo considered it reasonable to replace Rus with a substitute. The official then chatted to both benches before eventually ordering the replacement off the pitch and restarting the game after a five-minute delay.
Hearts looked comfortable in the second half and should have added to their lead in the last minute when Dale Carrick plundered Miranda and drove towards goal. But with just the ’keeper to beat, the forward dragged his shot wide.
Neilson, who rested left-back Kevin McHattie and forward James Keatings, added: “The performance was great, particularly in the first half. When they went down to ten men it killed the game a bit. We were happy for them to put someone else on but the ref wasn’t happy with that.”
Hearts: First half: Hamilton, Paterson, McKay, McGhee, Gordon, Walker, Robinson (Beith 32), Currie, Nicholson, Oliver, King
Second half: Alexander, Smith, Ozturk, Wilson, Henderson, Beith, Gomis, Bauben, Holt, Smith, Carrick.