Hearts manager Robbie Neilson looks to be onto a winner with Ellis Simms
The 21-year-old striker made his debut just hours after completing his loan switch from Everton and, given the fact he had not managed even one training session with his new team-mates, it was impressive how well he settled into the side and dealt with the pace of a match that was, at times, breathless.
A strong lad, who had no trouble dealing with the physicality of his first Scottish Premiership match, against one of the best teams in the league, he was competitive, quick and a more than decent link up man, who helped to turn the game in Hearts’ favor when he replaced Josh Ginnelly after the interval.
The type of player the Tynecastle club have been hunting for to bolster their attack, his signing addresses the only obvious weakness in a squad that had been highly dependent on Liam Boyce in the striking role and offers manager Robbie Neilson options for the remainder of the campaign .
On loan until the end of the season, if first impressions count, he could very well be the player who rubber stamps Hearts’ return to European football.
Beni Baningime’s welcome return
Making his first appearance since November, when he suffered a knee injury, the 23 year-old Congolese midfielder produced a second-half performance that reminded everyone present that he is a class act.
A significant summer signing, his workrate and energy have been a huge asset this term.
Last night he picked up where he had left off.
Adept at breaking up play when Celtic were in possession and tough and tenacious in the tackle, he rarely wastes a pass and his introduction into the game, with just over half an hour remaining, helped galvanize Hearts’ push to get back on level terms.
Surely one of the first names on Robbie Neilson’s teamsheet every week, his return presents the Hearts boss with a bit of a selection headache in the middle of the park as Cammy Devlin and Peter Haring have both performed very well in there in Baningime’s absence.
Fighting for a place, everyone is going to up their game to impress.
Big hearted fans and players
The recent and devastatingly-sad death of 13 year-old Hearts supporter Devin Gordon has hit the football community hard and both teams chose to warm up in FC United to Prevent Suicide strips in memory of the youngster, whose mum works for Hearts.
And, the show of support continued in the 13th minute, when the action paused as players, officials and coaching staff joined fans in all sections of the stadium – home and away – in a minute’s applause to mark the passing of a young football fan.
So often the vocal minority across all clubs struggle to find common ground and choose to sully such markers but the way everyone joined together at Tynecastle on Wednesday was an emotional reminder of the unifying qualities of the game and, hopefully, a signal to all that it is always better to talk about issues or seek help when it comes to tackling personal troubles.
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Ellis Sims’ Hearts debut praised as Robbie Neilson makes feelings clear over off…
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.