Steven Naismith praised the attacking intent and the character of his Hearts side after they came from behind for the second weekend running to beat Aberdeen 2-1 and keep alive their hopes of finishing third in the cinch Premiership.
The Jambos trailed the Dons following a Mattie Pollock header, but Josh Ginnelly hit back with a stunning equaliser before Lawrence Shankland secured victory with his 27th goal of the season.
Naismith, whose side cut the gap on Aberdeen to just two points with two games to play, was delighted to see Hearts show their resolve again after they fought back with 10 men to dig out a 2-2 draw at St Mirren the previous weekend.
“We pulled through and won after losing the first goal but overall I thought we played a really good game of football for 70 minutes,” said Naismith after an exhilarating showdown at Tynecastle.
“Again there is progression in terms of the way I want to play. I said from day one I want to have an attacking team who create more problems for the other team than they do for us and I think you will see that from the stats: how many shots we had on goal and how many really good chances we had.
“Then you have the pleasing aspect we come from behind. That is the last two games we have been in compromising situations. To get the red card in the last one and get a draw and here to win and play the way we want to play is very pleasing for me.
“If it was 3-1 after 70 minutes, people would not have been surprised.”
Naismith hailed the improvement in Ginnelly after the English forward took his tally for the season to 13 with a stunning 25-yard strike.
“He has been a big player for us,” said Naismith. “I played with him as a team-mate and he had loads of inconsistency and maybe lacked the drive to be really successful.
“But this season he has showed consistency, he has popped up for us and in the short time since I have taken over he has actually been a really good leader.”
Naismith apologised to his Aberdeen counterpart Barry Robson for not shaking his hand at full-time as he went straight on the pitch to celebrate victory.
“That’s my bad,” he said. “I’m naive in this situation in that the passion, the will to win overrides the thought process.
“I have just apologised to him there. I know Barry will not be happy with me and he’ll have been raging after it, but that’s 100 per cent my fault.
“I’ve spoken to him and apologised because he’s someone I consider a friend.”
Robson was pleased with the “fight” in his team but disappointed with the result.
“It was a proper game, a good scrap,” he said. “We knew coming down here we wouldn’t get it our own way, Hearts are trying to chase us down.
“We got a goal up and Mattie Pollock has a great opportunity to get another goal.
“We fought for the cause, there were chances – they had a few as well – and they go ahead, and we come back into the game, us trying to score. That was how the game panned out.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country