Craig Gordon ‘squeaky bum’ effect had Hearts at shootout advantage says Robbie Neilson as Jambos reset for final push

Robbie Neilson hailed captain fantastic Craig Gordon’s role in Hearts clinching a Scottish Cup quarter-final spot after a tense shoot-out.

The Jambos marched on after Gordon saved Ayo Obileye’s spot kick following 120 minutes of stalemate at Tynecastle.

John Souttar, Peter Haring, and Ben Woodburn had all scored from the spot for Hearts before Livi sub Cristian Montano hit the post.

Ellis Simms maintained the Jambos’ 100 per cent success rate to pile the pressure on Obileye – and for the second time in a week the defender failed to net from 12 yards.

But boss Neilson insists Gordon played a much bigger part in this success than many will have realized.

He said: “If I was an opposition player stepping up and Craig Gordon was in goal I would have a squeaky bum, that’s for sure!

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“It’s massive for us.

“I thought they all struck their penalties really well.

“We asked them to go and pick their spot and hit it. To their credit they did that.”

Gordon served notice that he was in no mood to be beaten early in the game.

Twice in the first ten minutes he denied Livingston striker Bruce Anderson.

First he got down well to save Anderson’s shot after the Livi man had driven into the area.

The former Aberdeen ace then drove at Souttar outside the area before shifting the ball on to his left but his effort was straight at Gordon who gathered.

Hearts saw plenty of the ball but struggled to make the most of it. Barrie Mackay had their first effort on target when his angled drive forced Max Stryjek into a save at his near post.

Everton loanee Simms then showed neat footwork to get past Jack Fitzwater but Stryjek stood tall and made the save with his chest.

While both teams couldn’t be faulted for effort in difficult conditions chances were even rarer at the start of the second period. Gordon breathed a sigh of relief in the 72nd minute when Scott Pittman’s shot deflected off Souttar and onto the post before the keeper gathered.

Simms was in the thick of it at the other end but saw a shot turned behind by Stryjek who then tipped a close-range Souttar header over his bar.

Livi had the ball in the net late on but Montano’s effort was ruled out for offside.

The Lions were happy to continue to soak up Hearts pressure in extra-time and Stryjek pulled off a superb save at his near post to keep out a Haring header.

And when Pittman wasted a late chance to snatch victory for Livi with a header, Gordon took center stage.

Neilson admitted a run of eight games in 26 days had taken its toll on his side and he will now give them a well deserved few days off.

He said: “It was a tough game and we knew it would be as Livingston are a very good team, who have caused a lot of upsets.

“We’re off the back of eight games in 26 days and used the least amount of players of anyone during that spell, so it was always going to be tough to get through it.

“But we have got through in the Cup and instead of being five points clear in the league we are 10 points clear.

“The boys will get a few days off now and hopefully that will bring the energy back.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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