BY ALAN TEMPLE – Capital City Press
Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson insists he is determined to build a Jambos side capable of “dominating” Celtic.
The capital club claimed a creditable 0-0 draw in Glasgow on Saturday following a stoic defensive display.
It was the first time Hearts have avoided defeat at Celtic Park since October 2009, when a team including the likes of Lee Wallace, Ian Black and Christian Nade claimed a League Cup 1-0 win courtesy of a Michael Stewart penalty.
Neilson’s men could have pinched the victory when Sam Nicholson scampered towards goal in the dying embers, however Efe Ambrose hauled him down to deny a clear goalscoring opportunity, receiving a red card for his troubles.
While the Hearts boss was delighted to leave the home of the champions with a share of the spoils, he has lofty ambitions for future visits to face Celtic.
Neilson said: “We are pleased with the point but, long-term, I’d like to build a team that can go to Celtic Park and get three points.
“That is our aim. We want to build a team that can go to Celtic and compete, play better football and dominate the game.
“That is the project and we are still a little bit away from it – but we are heading in the right direction.
“We had a couple of chances and could have nicked it but, all in all, a point is a decent result.”
After conceding 10 goals in the four matches prior to Saturday, Neilson can take particular satisfaction from their clean sheet at Parkhead – the first time Celtic have drawn a domestic blank since the penultimate game of last season.
Hearts will now attempt to ally that defensive stability with more attacking threat when Kilmarnock visit Tynecastle on Saturday.
Neilson told Hearts TV: “I thought we defended really well against Celtic and kept to the game plan. We allowed them the ball in the wide areas, let their centre-halves have the ball and the dealt with everything from there.
“It is disappointing that we didn’t break as well as we probably should have. There were opportunities to do that but we were a bit tentative to go and open up, which you have to do at Parkhead.
“You have to get back into shape quickly and defend but you need to be positive and try to score yourselves.
“We rode our luck a little bit in the first half but you have to do that. We have Kilmarnock next, so the boys will be back in this week and we’ll get geared up for that. We are back at Tynecastle and want to go and win that. Celtic is done and we move on.”