Steven Naismith spoke to the media after watching his Heart of Midlothian side grind out a hard-fought 1-0 victory over St Johnstone.

The Hearts head coach discussed the momentum his team have gained as they chalked up a third consecutive league win, argued that his side should have had a first-half penalty, and Jorge Grant's impact.

Here's everything Naismith said:

What were your thoughts on the game?

It was similar to the Livingston and Motherwell games. We had a lot of control and possession. I think we have got to take it as a compliment that teams are coming here and literally just sitting in their shape. They aren’t pressing and are letting us keep the ball, to try and force us into mistakes and then punish us. I thought we were really brave and controlled in what we did. Most of the time when they got into our final third was during a period where the crowd were on edge a wee bit. We decided to start forcing the passes, which then gives them the ball. They move it forward and then they’re in your final third out of nothing. That was the only part but after that we trusted it and played well. The biggest gripe is probably that we’ve not scored more goals.

Who scored the goal, Boyce or Shankland?

I think it’s Shanks who has been fortunate. Boyce has done all the leg work and it’s a controlled finish, and then it’s come off Shanks’ calf and goes in. Shanks is certainly claiming it.

Are they disputing it in the dressing room?

I don’t think so. By the time we made it into the changing room everyone had given it to Shanks. It wasn’t that contentious.

There was even a lull from Shankland, who didn’t really celebrate his goal. Was he worried it could go to VAR?

That’s where we are now. This happens with every goal. The ball has hit Shanks and he is maybe unaware that the defender is deeper than him, so it’s always going to be that way. But we were confident. We got the pictures quite quickly, so we were confident it was a goal. It was inevitable and it was about waiting for that moment. It was similar to the last few games. We have worked really hard. A stat which I worked out earlier in the week which is incredible is that we hadn’t won three league games in a row since January 2022. It’s an incredible stat for a club like Hearts. We have done that today and we have now got to use that. As I said last week and the week before, we need to be consistent in keeping clean sheets, making chances, getting goals and winning games. So it’s been a good afternoon.

You brought Grant into the midfield, was that with a view to having more of the ball and adding some creativity?

Yeah. Jorge has had to work really hard. At the start he understood what his position in the squad was. He has knuckled down and worked hard. He has got great intelligence on the ball, he’s very comfortable on it, and he has trained really well. I think his performances over the last month or so have been really good. He is somebody who deserved to play and he brings something a wee bit different. He is more attack-minded than some of the other midfielders. We expected to have a lot of the ball so we needed players who are willing to take risks to cut teams open.

READ MORE: Hearts 1 - 0 St Johnstone instant analysis: Grant gamble, big 3 points, struggles

Do you think you should have been given a penalty in the first half?

Yes. I think we have been given a penalty against us for less. It’s not down to VAR, it’s down to the decision making. It’s every week. We had a meeting with them during the week, which was a really good meeting, it was productive. It’s a penalty all day long, but are referees referring the game differently now because they’re thinking VAR might step in, but it doesn’t hit the threshold for clear and obvious it’s not given. It’s a penalty, no debate about it. 

Should Vargas have had a penalty?

I’ve not seen that one but from everyone’s reaction I’m not sure that was a penalty. 

Do the fans need to be patient if opposing teams are sitting in and playing for a draw?

It's a learning process, the way we want to play, the ways teams set up here - the game is going to be that way. For the first half or the first 60 minutes there are elements of, you are working a team to tire them out so then you can play through and get your chance. It happened against Livingston, to an extent it happened today. We had the ball in our box at the corner, we worked it across the pitch, cut the ball back and score a really good goal. In the first half there was not that space and time. It’s learning for everybody, the players, the fans, the coaches and everyone involved at the club. And you have to take it as a compliment, teams are happy to come here and get a draw, we just need to work hard and keep getting chances and when we get them we need to take them and we’ve done that in the last three.

READ MORE: Craig Levein reveals reception disappointment as he asks Boyce and Shankland question

Do you think opposition set-ups have changed since your time here?

I think the game has moved forward. The amount of analysis, clips, data that everyone gets now... if you look at the top level, how many times do you see a goalie walking out his box with the ball? That's modern football. Teams are now working out that they don't always need to press. At times today St Johnstone had no intention of pressing, they just sat in their shape and let Frankie Kent, or someone else, have the ball. They are basically saying, 'come and break us down', that’s just the way the tactics are changing. It's different to when I was playing.

Good to see Kyosuke Tagawa back in the squad?

It's good. The squad is now getting to the point where there is now real good competitions, everybody needs to be on it to be in the squad. Andy Halliday missed out, we’ve got Craig Gordon, Craig Halkett, Natty Atkinson and Barry McKay close to returning before the turn of the year.

Why was Andy Halliday not in the squad?

It was a hard one because Andy has been training unbelievably well but for this game I just got the bench was the bench.

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