Ross County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell admits the disappointment over his team’s failure to take all the points from a goalless draw at Hearts was tempered by his immense pride in their performance.
The Ladbrokes Premiership newcomers missed an 83rd-minute penalty through substitute Brian Graham and also failed to make a series of chances either side of the break count.
So good were the Staggies that the home fans directed their anger towards the players and manager Craig Levein at several points throughout the game, including at full-time.
Kettlewell, whose side beat Hamilton 3-0 in last weekend’s league opener, admits the only frustration was that the Dingwall side did not leave with all the spoils.
He said: “It does feel like two dropped but that’s probably an example of the strides we’ve made over the last year. To come to a place like this and be frustrated tells you a story.
“I was saying to the guys there I’ve been involved with this club for a long time coming to Tynecastle, so again it does show you the leaps we’ve made forward but ultimately there’s a sense of frustration.
“Anyone could see we deserved to win that. Our organisation was terrific against the ball but we just lacked that bit of end product.
“Unfortunately Brian misses the penalty but these things can happen.
“It wasn’t to be.
“We couldn’t be more proud of them off the back of several good results before it.
“There’s no negative spin on this for us, it’s been an excellent start.”
Apart from two Conor Washington chances that were repelled by County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw, it was the Staggies who looked more likely to score.
Ross Stewart, Michael Gardyne, who hit a cross off a post, and Josh Mullin also failed to convert from good positions.
The best opportunity in the match fell to Graham from 12 yards after Aidy White had fouled Marcus Fraser but, despite sending goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal the wrong way, the former Hibernian’s striker’s effort came back off an upright.
Hearts had been keen to bounce back from last weekend’s agonising 3-2 defeat at Aberdeen but looked devoid of ideas for much of the game.
The home fans turned on Levein as they headed for the exit.
The Hearts manager said: “The longer we went without dominating the match, we just got more and more safe.
“I tell them all the players when they come here it’s a brilliant place to play – but if things aren’t going well, you’ll know about it.
“These moments are exactly as we’ve spoken about.
“You can’t just hand someone a bag of confidence – you just need to dig in when it gets like this – get a result next week (against Motherwell in the Betfred Cup on Friday), maybe not through playing brilliant football, but a result to give you the confidence to play better.”
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