Hearts boss Craig Levein admits his side lacked confidence in Saturday’s disappointing goal-less draw with Premiership newcomers Ross County.
The hosts were second best for most of the game and were relieved to see Staggies striker Brian Graham’s 83rd minute penalty come back off the post.
The home fans made their feelings clear both during and after the game, with some fans calling for Levein to step down as they headed for the exit.
He said: “It was hard work, we didn’t get going at all and Ross County did very well. The longer we went without dominating the match, we just got more and more safe.
“It resulted in us continually playing the ball long, which for me isn’t going to help.
“I understand it. if you’re feeling like you’re not at your most confident, then you don’t want to make a mistake and the ball goes forward quicker.
“We just didn’t want to make mistakes today so we ended up going long and Uche (Ikpeazu) was then constantly fighting for the ball.
“I tell all the players when they come here it’s a brilliant place to play – but if things aren’t going well, you’ll know about it.
“These moments are exactly as we’ve spoken about.
“You can’t just hand someone a bag of confidence – you just need to dig in when it gets like this.”
Levein admits forward Steven Naismith is now a doubt for next Friday’s Betfred Cup clash at Motherwell after being replaced at the break with a hamstring complaint.
He added: “His hammy was feeling a bit tight so I didn’t want to take any risks. I don’t know if he’ll be alright for next week but he came off before there were any real problems.”