London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 28 Sep 2002 Partick Thistle 2 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Craig Levein <-auth Paul Kiddie auth-> Iain Brines
[A Archibald 28] ;[A Archibald 79]
2 of 003 Jean-Louis Valois 38 ;Scott Severin 80 L SPL A

Elvis pumps up the volume for Scots call-up

Partick 2 Hearts 2

Paul Kiddie

IN RECENT games, Steven Pressley may not have reached the level of performance to which supporters have become accustomed.

However, the Hearts skipper was back to his dominating self at Firhill on Saturday and surely this time has done enough to merit a recall to the Scotland set-up when Berti Vogts’ announces his squad on Wednesday for the crucial European Championship qualifier in Iceland in just under a fortnight’s time.

In the aftermath of the embarrassing 2-2 draw in the Faroes, the Scots boss indicated that the time may have come to look for an alternative to the experienced Christian Dailly-David Weir central defensive partnership.

Pressley, who has just two caps as a substitute to his name, has been touted from all corners and it is difficult to think of a more reliable defender in the Premierleague.

Craig Levein has built his team around the former Dundee United and Rangers star and there is no doubt he deserves the opportunity to show what he can do on the biggest stage of all.

Pressley was on the top of his game on Saturday, and he had to be as John Lambie’s outfit fought tooth and nail as they strived for their first home win of the campaign.

The skipper wears the armband with pride and he lead by example against the Premierleague newcomers who can be a match for anyone on their day at home.

He revels in the responsibility of marshalling his defence and time and again against Thistle he was on hand with crucial blocks, headed clearances and timely challenges.

It took a goal ten minutes from time from Scott Severin - the midfielder should also find himself on the plane to Iceland - to rescue a point for the visitors but it was no more than they deserved after an enthralling 90 minutes in Maryhill.

They were forced to fight back twice after falling behind to superb strikes from the impressive Alan Archibald and the share of the spoils helped the Gorgie side continue their good start to the season, the Jambos now sitting alone in third place following Dunfermline’s defeat to Aberdeen at Pittodrie.

"I was happy to go away from home and get a point and to come back twice from being a goal down I was really happy with," said Levein.

"I just felt, though, that if we had pushed it a wee bit more we may have gone on and taken three points."

An excellent stop by Roddy McKenzie from Martin Hardie’s shot was one of the few points of interest in the opening 20 minutes or so as both teams tried to gain control.

The hosts got their noses in front as the half-hour mark approached, Archibald rattling home a superb left-foot volley from 25 yards out after the ball fell to him from Pressley’s clearance from a free-kick into the area.

The ball whistled past McKenzie at his near post, although it has to be said the initial award of the foul wide on the right looked somewhat dubious with Phil Stamp appearing to win the ball in a challenge with Jamie Mitchell.

While new signing Mark de Vries rightly hit the headlines after his four-goal blast against Hibs in the season’s first derby, midfield playmaker Jean-Louis Valois looks like being one of the Premierleague’s best summer signings.

The Frenchman’s trickery can unlock the tightest of defences, while his expertise from a dead ball situation is nothing short of sensational.

The former Luton star hit the back of the net against Stirling Albion in the CIS Cup win in midweek with a delightful free-kick and he produced an even better effort from a similar situation on Saturday to haul his side level.

Alex Burns was penalised for a trip on Alan Maybury as the Irishman forced his way forward towards the Jags goal and there was only one thing in Valois’s mind despite being fully 30 yards out.

Partick knew what he was going to attempt as well but their defensive wall and keeper Kenny Arthur were left helpless as a stunning left-foot shot curled into the left-hand corner of the net.

"He was probably seven or eight yards further out from goal than on Wednesday night but that’s the kind of ability he has and it was a wonderful goal," said Levein.

"That’s twice in a row now, so teams will be looking out for it but he has shown in training that he can stick it in either corner.

"He has settled in well here, gets on with the other players, is relaxed and that has helped him concentrate on playing football and when he does, he is a wonderful player."

Valois’s glorious effort should have settled Hearts but they had McKenzie to thank for going in at the break on level terms, the keeper denying Hardie with a magnificent one-handed save when it looked like the striker’s header was destined for the back of the net.

De Vries didn’t enjoy the best of games in attack, his first touch letting him down too often but the towering Dutchman did bring the best out of Arthur eight minutes after the break when the keeper somehow managed to claw away his header.

A failure to clear their lines looked to have dealt the Jambos a crushing blow 12 minutes from time, Archibald crashing home his second goal of the game with a 20-yard thunderbolt.

However, the visitors hit back almost immediately, De Vries seeing a shot tipped past by Arthur and moments later the game was level again.

Valois this time turned provider with a pin-point delivery from a corner on the right on to the head of Severin and the midfielder applied the perfect finish as he sent a header into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.

"We passed the ball better in the second half and finished the game reasonably strongly," added Levein.

"Overall, Roddy didn’t have a hell of a lot to do and we did force their keeper into a couple of good saves and it’s a wee bit disappointing as I thought we might have just sneaked it."

Taken from the Scotsman

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