Hearts 2-3 Queen of the South: 'Crazy' talk over 'blip' - Robbie Neilson

A section of Hearts fans protested before the 3-2 defeat to Queen of the South
A section of Hearts fans protested before the 3-2 defeat to Queen of the South

It is "crazy" that Hearts are in crisis while sitting 13 points clear of the Scottish Championship, believes manager Robbie Neilson after his side lost 3-2 to Queen of the South.

A number of fans protested outside Tynecastle before Saturday's home defeat.

Five days earlier Hearts were knocked out of the Scottish Cup by Highland League champions Brora Rangers.

"We have to continue to fight, I know what this club is about," said Neilson.

"It's crazy that we're sitting here 13 points clear and we're talking about this. We should be happy, we should be enjoying the football, but the last four or five days have made it difficult."

A section of the Hearts support ignored a club statement urging them not to gather in protest at Tyncastle before Saturday's match, with the midweek cup exit described as "an embarrassment" by Neilson.

And their miserable week was compounded as Connor Shields scored twice for Queens, his first from a Mihai Popescu error.

Popescu's header and a strike by Armand Gnanduillet made it level, but Andy Irving's own goal gave Queens victory.

"We're really disappointed," Neilson told BBC Scotland. "It's devastating for us all.

"But we're sitting 13 points clear, it's about getting over the line at this club. It's been a difficult five days, there's no denying it. A hearts player, a Hearts coach, a Hearts manager, you continue to fight and you take the flak and you keep driving forward.

"I've been in this situation before. You have blips. My job is to come in here and win the title. We done it before here, I did it at Dundee United, and we're sitting 13 points clear with five games to go. So lets get the job done lets stick together and get over the line."

A statement released by owner Ann Budge on Thursday said the shock defeat to Brora was "completely unacceptable and fell way below the standards that we set and expect at Hearts", with the side now having won just twice in their last eight games.

Neilson said: "There's no doubting there's a lot of work to be done at this football club. We came in when it was on a massive downward spiral, had been demoted into the Championship, had won four games in 30, and we've managed to turn it around.

"We're hitting a blip at the moment but we're hoping that blip is as short as possible so we can get over the line and get the club back where it belongs."

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