Robbie Neilson's 10-0 passing frustration as St Mirren boss Stephen Robinson makes Hearts bench influence claim

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson believes a 1-1 draw at St Mirren could prove to be a “decent point” come the end of the season as he explained why the team struggled in the first-half when they could have been winning 10-0 if ten passes were a goal.

The Tynecastle Park club were lucky to only be trailing 1-0 at half-time, through an early Ryan Strain free-kick, after a disappointing performance where they had plenty of possession but no substance, failing to trouble Trevor Carson, while the Buddies had the chances to increase the lead.

After a switch in formation after the break, Hearts improved and equalised through Robert Snodgrass but were unable to find a winner with Aberdeen cutting the gap between third and fourth to three points with their win over St Johnstone.

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"I don’t think we’re ever happy with a point,” Neilson said. “We wanted to take three points. The first-half performance wasn’t the levels we want to get to. The second half was miles better. Sometimes you have to take the point and get up the road. St Mirren make the game very difficult for you to play. At any opportunity the ball is going forward, long throws, corners, set-plays. It can make the game unpredictable. In the first half, if ten passes were a goal we would have probably won 10-0. But ultimately it’s about getting shots on goal. We were too deep.

“In the second half we were a lot higher and managed to penetrate them. We had to get our wing-backs much higher. In the first half they were really deep. Barrie (McKay) and Cammy (Devlin) were coming deep and there was nobody near the strikers. For most of the second half we controlled it, other than a few counter-attacks. They beat Celtic, drew with Rangers, beat Aberdeen and Hibs. So to come here and pick up a point, at the end of the season it could be a decent point.”

‘We were terrific’

Buddies boss Stephen Robinson admitted he was “disappointed not to have all three points” and felt the “game should have been won in the first half”.

“We were terrific and took the game to them, pressed them really well and showed great quality at times,” he said. “We scored one and probably should have had another two and it wouldn’t have been unjustified. We started the second half well again but then started to drop off and that created spaces between the lines. We were quite happy for them to have possession and we hit them brilliantly on the break at times. It was just our end decision-making as has been the case in the last couple of weeks."

Hearts boss Robbie Neilson booked by Chris Graham. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)Hearts boss Robbie Neilson booked by Chris Graham. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)
Hearts boss Robbie Neilson booked by Chris Graham. (Photo by Alan Harvey / SNS Group)

Robinson revealed he had to take influential midfielder Keanu Baccus off at half-time with the player on a yellow card after what he felt was pressure from the Hearts bench to get him booked

"Keanu got a yellow card with a lot of encouragement from their bench,” he said. “The referee has been put under a heck of a lot of pressure. You have to take these decisions, it wasn't one I wanted to make when you have to take one of your best players off. But we had a replacement like Greg Kiltie which makes it a little bit easier."



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