Celtic grind it out Burns' sharpshooters gun down Hearts
By JAMES TRAYNOR
18 Jan 1996
Hearts 1, Celtic 2
THEY keep rolling along, and Celtic's belief grows stronger by the game.
Even when they go behind, as they did last night when John Robertson scored a wonderful first-half goal, Tommy Burns' players simply kept running and probing until Hearts ground to a halt.
The Tynecastle side won the first half with a display of determination and desire which would have been enough to subdue most teams, and also the Celtic of old.
However, Burns' current squad have a resilience which could yet carry them to their first premier-division championship since 1988.
They narrowed the gap between themselves and Rangers, who are going for an eighth title in succession, to only two points and the way they celebrated their slender win on the Tynecastle turf suggested they believed this was a significant triumph apart from the fact it extended their sequence of games without defeat to 18.
"I don't think I can find the words to praise the players properly," said Burns afterwards.
"Their attitude, their desire, and their fitness are all there." Robertson opened the scoring with a splendid goal five minutes from the interval after he escaped John Hughes just inside Celtic's box.
His finish was excellent, leaving Gordon Marshall with little chance.
Burns was forced into change during the interval when a lower back muscle strain, which has been bothering Andreas Thom for a couple of weeks, prevented him from carrying on.
Andy Walker, who took over from Thom, demonstrated the confidence which thrives within Celtic Park by scoring the winner in 82 minutes after he had missed the opportunity of the evening.
He had been through on the Hearts box and side-footed the ball high and wide, and some of Celtic's fans turned on him.
However, he won them all over soon afterwards.
"I'm delighted for him," Burns said.
"He has taken stick, but I would ask the supporters to stick with him because he'll score goals for us." Pierre van Hooydonk is ahead of Walker in the queue for individual prizes and acclaim and he scored his seventeenth goal of the season in 76 minutes after Alan Johnston was ruled to have fouled Tosh McKinlay deep on the left.
McKinlay took the free kick, Gilles Rousset came for the cross, but missed it and van Hooydonk headed in.
Jim Jefferies, the Hearts manager, was unhappy with referee Eric Martindale's decision to award the free kick which led to Celtic's equaliser.
"I didn't think they caused us many problems for the first hour or so," said Jefferies.
"But a lot of the problems in the second half were of our own making because we sat back and let them come at us." Three players were booked, Hearts' Gary Mackay and Neil Pointon and the matchwinner, Walker.
HEARTS - Rousset, Locke, Ritchie, Mackay, McManus, Bruno, Johnston, Colquhoun, Robertson, Fulton, Pointon.
Substitutes - Lawrence, Smith, McPherson.
CELTIC - Marshall, Boyd, McKinlay, Grant, Hughes, O'Donnell, Donnelly, McStay, van Hooydonk, Thom, Collins.
Substitutes - Walker, Wieghorst, McLaughlin.
Referee - E Martindale (Newlands).
q.AFTER the final whistle at Tynecastle, a police spokesman said that a man had been arrested following an incident involving Andy Walker.
The incident allegedly occurred at the end of the match as the player was walking up the tunnel.
Walker was not injured in the alleged incident.