Jim Jefferies praises Hearts players despite defeat

Hearts' Rudi Skacel
Skacel was back in the Hearts side as a second-half substitute

Jim Jefferies has told his Hearts players to shrug off their 1-0 defeat by Dundee United as they did not deserve to lose the game.

"The least we deserved was a draw," the Hearts manager told BBC Scotland.

"I thought we played really well in the first half and their goalkeeper had a couple of great saves.

"I said to the players that, if they play like they did in the first half on a regular basis, we will win a lot more games."

Jefferies' big regret was the marking that led to Jon Daly's first-half headed winner.

"At this level, especially against people like Daly, if you don't pick up people at set plays, they will more often than not punish you," said the Hearts boss.

"And Marius Zaliukas was nowhere near him and he is the man that is supposed to be picking him up.

"That gave them something to hold on to. We huffed and puffed, but things did not fall for us.

"I can't fault them for the way they went about the game and the first half was excellent and we certainly did not deserve to be 1-0 down.

"But sometimes football can be cruel and you have to give United credit, because I thought they defended very well and Garry Kenneth was outstanding for them."

Meanwhile, Jefferies was hopeful that Rudi Skacel, the Czech Republic winger whose contract is set to expire shortly, would sign a new deal after impressing as a second-half substitute.

"He's in talks tomorrow to get it sorted out," revealed the manager.