Hearts manager Robbie Neilson was pleased with his side’s friendly against Sunderland after an implementation of the style he wants to see from his team.

The Tynecastle side lost 2-0 thanks to an Aidan McGeady double for Sunderland. Hearts were implementing a pressing game for most of the match before substitutions disrupted the game’s rhythm. Neilson’s side have won their opening Premier Sports Cup group stage matches against Peterhead and Cove Rangers over the last week.

Heart of Midlothian v Sunderland: Pre-Season Friendly

Hearts lost 2-0. (Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images)

They close the campaign against Stirling Albion and Inverness Caledonian Thistle before the cinch Premiership begins. Neilson said of the Sunderland test: “I thought it was great, I was really pleased with it. You want to win all your pre-season games and for me it’s about continuing to work on the shape we’re trying to play.

“It’s good sometimes to show them little areas where we need to improve. The last few games in the Premier Sports Cup have been brilliant but probably not the challenge we faced with the way they played in the pockets. There was a lot of stuff to take from it, both attacking and defensively.

 

“I thought at times in the first-half we played some brilliant football. I think we made 10 subs so the last 15 0r 20 minutes was always going to be dead. At times we were maybe a little open in the middle areas. We want to be aggressive in our pressing but we need to learn who to attack and when to sit, and which player is going.”

Neilson says McGeady was a problem player to deal with, saying of the Sunderland winger who he faced during his playing career: “Aiden is still sharp and has good feet and good movement. He’s done very well for them last season, he came back out of cold storage in January and was excellent and I think he’ll be a big player for them this year.”

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