CRAIG LEVEIN gave his Hearts side pass marks in more ways than one after they earned a 2-1 Scottish Premiership win at Ross County.
They upped their game after the break and earned the victory thanks to a clincher from Jamie Walker after Isma Goncalves’ goal was cancelled out by Davis Keillor-Dunn.
Hearts ended the game with 10 men as Connor Randall was sent off but Levein was satisfied with his players’ efforts and quality on the ball in the Highlands.
He said: “Every game away from home in the Premier League is difficult and I was pleased overall with how we played. We passed the ball very well in spells, although we are not on a roll yet. We have not yet got any major momentum behind us, but for long spells in the first half I felt we were doing the things I hope that we will do week in and week out.
“I said at half-time the way we were going to win the game was to pass the ball and if we wanted to we could do it. They gave me a pretty good answer.
“It was good to see the resilience from the team after we went down to 10 men. Players have to sacrifice themselves. Kyle Lafferty had to go wide on the right and he did a perfectly good job in that position. Jamie Walker had to become a defensive midfield player and he did that excellently, but I was thrilled to bits with them all.”
Owen Coyle, in his first home game in charge of Ross County, felt some key decisions did not go their way from referee Willie Collum.
He explained: “There were probably five or six penalty appeals, two or three stonewall.
“The one in the first half, Christophe Berra wasn’t even looking at the ball and he takes (Andrew) Davies out of the game – and it led to Hearts’ goal.
“That’s something we need to address because we had two against one and two boys collided into each other. Goncalves ends up scoring a good goal from his perspective, disappointing from ours.
“That said we pick ourselves up and reply from a great move down the right. Keillor-Dunn, I’ve said from day one, we can work with and make a better player. It was a wonderful equaliser and at that point we were well set to go on and win the game.
“For their second goal, we had an opportunity to clear and never – and that’s the little bits we need to work on and get better at as a group.”
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