BY IAIN COLLIN – @CCP_sport
Sam Nicholson insists Hearts have the strength of character to recover from the double blow of their Scottish Cup exit at the hands of Hibernian and Saturday’s last-gasp defeat to bottom side Dundee United.
The Tynecastle side have not had to deal with many setbacks since recovering from administration and relegation from the top-flight in 2014, storming their way to the Championship title last season and easing themselves into third spot in the Premiership this term.
However, following last Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Hibs at Easter Road, the Gorgie men were left stunned by Paul Paton’s magnificent 30-yard winner in Saturday’s 2-1 loss to United.
It was a troubled afternoon for the Jambos, who saw defender Jordan McGhee become the eighth Hearts player sent-off this season.
However, Nicholson is convinced they can overcome the disappointment and increased pressure that the twin defeats has brought.
He said: “The boys gave their all. When we went down to 10 men we started trying to pass it more and, in my opinion, we were the better team in the second-half.
“I think (the red card) killed the game a wee bit but it was done and we couldn’t cry about it. We just had to get over it and get into the game.
“But it’s done now and we’re looking forward to next week to try and put everything right because we got beat 2-1 but I don’t think the score reflected the game.
“We haven’t had a lot of setbacks but you can tell from the team that we have got it in us to handle it.
“The way we started the season, we were getting the wins and we went the first five (league) games unbeaten, which I think shows character.
“We didn’t get beaten at that time but I think it shows how strong the team is, mentally. We’ve got a lot of experienced boys in there, so it helps.”
Though United had the best of the opportunities over the piece, Hearts could have snatched the three points themselves with three minutes remaining.
Abiola Dauda was played into space attacking the United box on the left but the Nigerian striker ignored calls for a pass from Nicholson, who was unmarked in the centre, and his shot was repelled by Eiji Kawashima
“I said to him I was shouting but obviously in a stadium full of fans it’s hard to hear,” added Nicholson.
“You do want your striker to be a bit greedy but from my point of view I would have liked the ball across. But that’s football.”