Craig Levein was back in the dug-out at Tynecastle on Saturday - but only because he was too frustrated sitting in the stand.
Up against a Livingston side that have lost just one game in their first season back in the Scottish top flight and are unbeaten since manager Gary Holt took the helm, the Premiership leaders struggled to find their form, dropping their first league points of the campaign.
“I didn’t plan to be on the touchline, but there was a level of frustration, so I went down there trying to get the tempo of the match up to the level we needed it at,” said Levein. “I thought Livingston’s gameplan was executed really well. They sat deep, waited for us to over-commit and then tried to hit us on the counter-attack and had a couple of opportunities when they did that.
“But we frustrated me more than Livingston did. The things we’ve been doing really well, which is moving the ball quickly from side to side and delivering good quality into the box and finishing the chances when they came our way – those things have been evident in all of our matches this season, so it was frustrating today that we didn’t get it, although we still should have won. We had opportunities to make a good final pass or cross that we squandered. That’s the frustration of this performance.”
The Hearts fans were plainly unhappy with the team and, after the exciting start to the season, were none-too-pleased with the outcome. And the manager shared their disquiet: “There is an expectation to win all our matches at home. Our home record is exceptional, so we’re frustrated and disappointed that we didn’t get all three points today. We did enough to win and some things didn’t go our way or we should have been sitting here, having won 1-0 with me saying, ‘We didn’t play well, but we got the points’.”
Livingston manager Holt was far more impressed with his charges. “It’s a wee boost,” he said. “Another building block. That out there today, that is us. Yes, we want to create a bit more but that’s us every week. Now can we add to it in the final third? Can we take care and get better chances, test keepers more, be a bigger threat? But we have to stick to what we’re good at. If we do that every week we’ll get results that’ll keep us high up the league.”