The Tynecastle club are building towards the new season and ran out 1-0 winners in the latest test against Lowland League side Spartans.
A 10th-minute Euan Henderson goal proved the difference for Hearts, who had a number of first team players playing throughout the 90 minutes – including a few former Spartans youngsters.
After a far more convincing performance against East Fife the previous evening Neilson said his team missed the pace and tempo he was seeking but admitted they are a work in progress.
He tested out a trialist up front in the final 30 minutes of the match and while he failed to make a breakthrough against a well-organised Spartans team he will be given another shot to impress at the weekend.
“I thought we were a bit slow in the movement of the ball,” said the Hearts boss. “They played last night and were miles better. But this is pre-season and that’s what happens sometimes but we need to get ourselves ready.
“We have worked the boys really hard. They had a hard week in Spain and a lot of the boys played last night.”
But he says he still expects a new forward to join the squad before the competitve action begins. Although, he admitted, the search is still on.
“We are still trying but it is quite difficult. We have had a few in but they have not been quite what we are looking for. Teams are starting to come back in England and abroad and they are looking to sign people so we are pushed down the pecking order.
“It is difficult in every window because everyone wants a striker so it is hard. We have Boycey here and we have Hendo here so we have options but we do want another one as well. We will get one for sure but we have to see what comes up.”