London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2002-03--> All for 20020928
<-Page <-Team Sat 28 Sep 2002 Partick Thistle 2 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Craig Levein <-auth Ron Mckay auth-> Iain Brines
[A Archibald 28] ;[A Archibald 79]
3 of 003 Jean-Louis Valois 38 ;Scott Severin 80 L SPL A

Partick Thistle 2-2 Hearts

Lambie is sick of the draw
Ron McKay at Firhill Stadium

In 199 previous league games for Thistle Alan Archibald had mustered just six goals. He celebrated his double century by producing one for each milestone, two of the very best, and very nearly the goals of the season. And these were no gifts. Both were explosive drives, almost mirror images of each other, one in either half and from virtually identical areas of the field. But despite these gems Thistle were twice pegged back and have still to record their first league win of the season at home. As Hearts have failed to do so on their travels.
Archibald might not have even played. He reported for training on Friday with a virus and was sent home to bed. John Lambie, his manager, revealed that minutes before the game Thistle had asked the referee if he could be withdrawn. The reply was that he could, if Hearts agreed. However, Lambie decided to let the player warm-up and, although Archibald felt pain in his chest, he decided to continue. 'I felt fine in the game,' he said afterwards 'although I'm feeling pretty weak now.' Lambie chipped in: 'Just shows, he should get a virus every week if he plays like that.'

Archibald, a natural left-footer, said that he was usually good for two goals a season. He certainly didn't expect them all to come in the same game. And neither could he have hoped to hit the second goal so sweetly with his less favoured foot, an unstoppable clump which whistled in.

He had scored with his right before, he said, but blamed goalkeeping errors rather than his ability. 'Usually I just knock in trundlers.' This wasn't the case here. The shot was hit with the meat of his foot, which left Roddie McKenzie, excellent throughout, without a hope of reaching.

Archibald pulled the jersey up over his head in celebration, covering-up the nasty viral sores all round his mouth .

His first goal enlivened a fairly dull preliminary period of play. Hearts captain Steven Pressley, after a consistent spell of home pressure, made a clearing header to the outside of the box, at the apex on the left side where Archibald was charging in. He splattered the volley viciously with his left foot and, although McKenzie got a finger-stinging touch, he was still aloft as the ball birled in the netting.

The goal came in front of what the locals call the Viagra Stand (half erect, get it?) and until then the Hearts fans inhabiting it had been the more stimulated.

Not by their side's play -- it was erratic at best -- but a boisterous camaraderie. It took only 10 minutes, however, for them to regain voice, through a quite splendid goal by Jean-Louis Valois.

Like the rest of his colleagues he had been anonymous until he stepped up to take a free-kick fully 30 yards out. The award was for a needless booking for Alex Burns's clumsy intervention on Alan Maybury.

It didn't seem like a scoring opportunity. Kenny Arthur was clearly of that view as the French player cutely bent the ball around the wall leaving him absolutely motionless and beaten.

That was Hearts' first shot on target and they were not to repeat it as the half ran out. By then they could well have been two adrift but for the gymnastics of McKenzie. Before the goal he had used his knees to block a Martin Hardie shot and, just as the half ended, he twisted acrobatically to deny the same player, this time pushing away a header-on from a Stephen Craigan throw-in.

Hearts had been strangely muted in the first half, losing battles all over the field to a tidy, but hardly sparkling or pug-nacious Thistle team. They seemed unable to cope with the positional play of Jamie Mitchell, a lad with oodles of skill who played almost as a third striker, and the service to their two front players was throttled in the midfield so that they were reliant on hopeful punts forward .

There was more order and cohesion in the second half due, no doubt, to a half-time berating by Craig Levein, and a more central role for Valois. He's a delightful player, able to hypnotise the ball and run sinuously with it even if, at times, the pace and furore of the game seems to overwhelm him.

Levein credited Thistle and their organisation for making Valois a somewhat peripheral wide player in the first half. He changed the system at half time and gave Valois the freedom of the midfield after the break, urging him to push forward to support the front two.

'I asked him in my broken French whether he had played there before,' said Levein 'and he said that he had. At least I think that's what he said.'

It certainly worked. He dom-inated the midfield stramash and created Hearts' second equaliser, bending the ball in from the right corner flag for Scott Severin to glance a header which David Lilley could only thrash at on the line and marginally deflect higher into the net. In this role he was altogether a more influential player for Hearts.

Could he continue this form, Levein was asked. 'That's 10 games now, I think, and he shows no sign of flagging, so I'm confident he can.' The outrageous free-kick, Levein added, was no fluke. 'He did the same against Stirling Albion on Wednesday and this one was seven or eight yards further out,' said the boss. The ball ended up in Arthur's left-hand corner, but Levein warned: 'He can put it in the other side, too. I've seen him do it in training.'

Lambie, while not faulting the effort of his players, criticised his side for not holding onto their lead. He was characteristically blunt about errors. A 'silly free-kick' was given away for the first.

'I thought our line-up was absolutely ridiculous and the goalkeeper's positioning was terrible,' he added.

Despite that, and Levein's cavil that a win for his side might have been just, this was a fair result, shot through by four fine goals and unremitting effort.

Taken from the Scotsman

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