Hearts manager Robbie Neilson says his Jambos side must get used to teams manning the barricades this term after watching his team grind to a 1-0 win away at Cowdenbeath.
A goal from Craig Halkett 12 minutes from time secured a win for Hearts in their second League Cup match. It was far from pretty though as they did things the hard way against Gary Bollan’s men.
Neilson says Hearts must learn to deal with teams putting plenty of bodies in their way during the upcoming Championship campaign: “It’s going to be like that this season.
“It wasn’t a great game. We started well, switched it and got into good areas but couldn’t get the goal. The longer the game went on, the slower it got and they sat it and made it difficult. We weren’t as good as we should’ve been, but we managed to get that goal at the end.
“There’ll be a lot of teams that’ll sit with two banks of four and make it difficult for you and leave your centre halves on the ball. It’s up to us to move the ball more quickly and get used to the surface.
“We’ll be playing on that (astroturf) when we’re at Alloa, Raith Rovers and Queen of the South. For us, it was a good indication of what it’s going to be like going forward in certain games.
“On another day we’d maybe have scored two or three but it wasn’t to be. We got into good areas and Cowdenbeath defended very well.”
It was a game won without ‘The Portobello Pirlo’ Andy Irving. The talented playmaker has been called up to the Scotland U21s, allowing 18-year-old Scott McGill to make his maroon debut.
Whilst Irving was set to start at Bayview, Neilson was happy to see him earn international rewards, as he praised debutant McGill: “He (Irving) was going to start but we got a phone call last night and he got the call up which is great for Andy.
“For us, we missed that ability to dictate the game. But we brought Scott McGill in for his debut, which was great for the kid and I thought he did very well. It’s an opportunity for him.”