David Martindale believes Livingston’s goalless cinch Premiership draw against third-place Hearts at the Tony Macaroni Arena underlined the West Lothian club’s progress.
The league encounter improved after a scrappy first-half spoiled by the wind but – while Robbie Neilson’s men probably had more opportunities – there was little between the sides and neither could find a way to win.
Livi have taken five points from nine this season against the Tynecastle side, who have now gone 10 games unbeaten, and the Lions remain seven points behind in fourth place with a game in hand as they extended their unbeaten run to six games in all competitions.
“We have taken five points from Hearts,” said Martindale who was “99.9 per cent” sure striker Joel Nouble would be back for the trip to Celtic Park on Wednesday after a lengthy absence with a knee injury.
“I think for a club our size – I don’t like to speak about budgets but I will – that is testament to how far we have come as a football club.
“For me, Hearts are the third best team in the country.
“They finished third last year, they are third this year and they have battered a few teams this season and scored a lot of goals.
“I think we can take points off any team outside the Old Firm – you need a wee bit of luck when you come up against the Old Firm at times.”
Neilson admitted that the West Lothian stadium was a football-free zone.
“There won’t be any Christmas DVD’s of that game,” said the Jambos boss, who revealed midfielder Cammy Devlin came off with a tight hamstring.
“There was no football in it at all but it is always the same when you come here.
“We had two opportunities, one at the end of the first half and at the start of the second half and if you don’t take them then you don’t deserve to take three points.
“I have watched a lot of games here, there is never really any football played on it. It is very direct, you have to turn teams, get second balls and you need to adapt.
“We tried to adapt and I thought we adapted pretty well.
“We tried to get into good areas and I thought we did that better in the second half but I think that was helped by the fact that we were into the wind in the second half and the ball holds up a wee bit.
“We go into every game to win it. We came here to win the game and as I said, we had a couple of chances that we didn’t take but at least it is another point on the board and it could be an important point at the end of the season.”