Hearts manager Daniel Stendel encouraged his players to show patience in their crucial encounter with St Mirren after sensing a desperation in their play during Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Motherwell.
The Ladbrokes Premiership’s bottom club were looking to build on consecutive wins over Rangers and Hibernian but fell behind when Christopher Long finished impressively after charging down Craig Halkett’s clearance.
Stendel brought on striker Liam Boyce for midfielder Oliver Bozanic at half-time and his team were level inside four minutes after Steven Naismith burst forward from his deeper role to set up Conor Washington.
However, Motherwell gradually gained control of the game and created a series of chances before Naismith, Boyce and Michael Smith all snatched at chances in stoppage-time for the hosts.
Hearts fell three points adrift and now travel to Paisley on Wednesday to face a Buddies team who dropped into the bottom two.
Stendel said: “We need to keep our patience in this game. This is important. When we defend so well like the last few games, I am sure we will get our chances to win this game.
“It’s a big chance to bring all the teams at the bottom close together and this will be our goal for Wednesday.”
The German, who lost Sean Clarke to a knee injury which makes him a midweek doubt, added: “After 1-1 I thought we could change the result but we wanted it too much.
“We did not really play with patience when we had the chance to play ahead.
“You can help the players in some situations but this is a hard time for everybody on the pitch. After half-time, we scored really early and it was a good feeling. We changed things and it worked.
“Then we were all a little bit too nervous, too early with long balls. The idea was a little bit different but this is the situation.
“I said to the players I want us to play more. I think we would get more chances then but I understand I am not on the pitch. You feel our situation in the pitch.
“The fight was great again and the support was great, and Motherwell were also good.”
Motherwell also have an injury concern ahead of a vital encounter on Friday against Aberdeen, who cut the Steelmen’s advantage in third place to one point.
Allan Campbell went off after appearing to roll his ankle while stopping Clare’s halfway-line shot going in.
Manager Stephen Robinson said: “If Allan’s come off the pitch it’s not good for us because the wee man doesn’t come off too often. We will asses that and hopefully we will have him back.
“But I thought Barry Maguire was excellent when he went in. Another young academy boy we are putting in there and he didn’t look out of place at all.”
David Turnbull will play for the reserves on Monday after continuing his gradual comeback from knee surgery as a 73rd-minute substitute.