Steven Naismith was delighted with the character shown by Hearts as they recovered from a “terrible” first half to tighten their grip on third spot in the cinch Premiership with a 3-2 victory over Dundee at windswept Tynecastle.
The Jambos were booed off at the break as they trailed to strikes from Jordan McGhee and Lyall Cameron, but they roared back in the second half to claim a sixth win in seven matches through goals from Calem Nieuwenhof, new recruit Dexter Lembikisa and substitute Yutaro Oda.
It was the second time in successive homes games Hearts had fought back from two down after they salvaged a 2-2 draw with Ross County last month and they are now eight points clear of nearest challengers Kilmarnock in the battle for third.
“Our second-half performance was really good,” he said. “We got chances early and scored a good goal, and we used that momentum and pressure.
“For most of the second half it was attack v defence and we made the right choices when we got good opportunities
“The first-half performance was terrible. We were laboured, slow and played into Dundee’s hands. At half-time this place was toxic.
“The players knew it wasn’t good enough, we knew it wasn’t good enough and the fans let us know it wasn’t good enough, so you are in a really tough spot.
“For us to come back to win is a really good strength to have, that’s twice we’ve been 2-0 down here and we’ve taken points from both games. That probably wouldn’t have happened in previous seasons.”
Hearts captain Lawrence Shankland saw a penalty saved by Trevor Carson at 2-1 down. It was the 18-goal forward’s third consecutive spot-kick miss, but Naismith is adamant he will continue to take them.
“No, because up until three penalties ago it was brilliant,” he said when asked about Shankland’s recent penalty woe.
“It’s the same as when he wasn’t scoring goals at the start of the season and then he went through two months of scoring nearly every week. He’ll keep taking them and he’ll start scoring again.”
Naismith is hopeful that Scott Fraser’s loan move from Charlton will be finalised in time for Saturday’s match at home to Aberdeen.
“No update, we’re still waiting,” he said. “I’m hoping it can be cleared for the weekend but basically we’re sitting waiting for Charlton to sign it off.
“I’ve not got a clue what the issue is but he’s been in here, he’s been about, so hopefully it’s something that doesn’t take too long.”
Dejected Dundee manager Tony Docherty admitted his Dundee team lost their way after the break.
“It feels like I witnessed two teams out there,” he said. “I couldn’t be more happy with the first half, they executed the game plan to the letter.
“I thought we started the second half well but we got caught up. They will learn the hard way from this. It’s important to make key decisions but that cost us tonight.
“We were the architects of our own downfall but we have to focus on the positives and learn to manage games better.”