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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Graeme Croser auth-> John Rowbotham
Maybury Alan [R Foran pen 28]
10 of 013 ----- L SPL H

Big day turns sour as Robbo rages at referee


JOHN ROBERTSON’S Tynecastle homecoming wasn’t supposed to be like this.

The new Hearts manager’s goal-grabbing playing career in the maroon jersey was a football fairytale but his first home game in charge played out like a nightmare and ended in acrimony.

A man sent off, hotly-disputed penalty decisions at both ends and Hearts’ first home domestic defeat to a non-Old Firm side in over two years - none of it was in the script.

At the end, Robbo was raging but the anger directed by the coach at referee John Rowbotham was in many ways misplaced.

True, the big decisions did not go the home team’s way but the official called most of them correctly.

Hearts were mainly undone by their own inability to put pressure on Gordon Marshall’s goal, despite enjoying the bulk of possession and territorial advantage. The moment which turned the game arrived in the 26th minute when Alan Maybury was sent off for impeding Martyn Corrigan’s route to goal. The offence took place inside the box and Richie Foran slotted home the resultant penalty for the only goal of the game.

The decision incensed Robertson and his fury was compounded by two further penalty claims which his side were denied in the second period.

By the end the pre-match cheers which greeted the Gorgie legend as he walked out of the tunnel were a distant memory.

Robertson confronted Rowbotham and seems certain to be the subject of a report to the SFA. The manager’s after-match comments won’t have endeared him to the governing body either.

He said: "They say referees don’t change matches but, unfortunately, on this occasion he did. He sent Alan off for denying the player a clear goalscoring opportunity but Martyn Corrigan was not going to get a shot in on goal.

"Referees have to be held to account in these situations - I don’t think they understand that their decisions can have long-term consequences. We’re now without Alan for next weekend’s match with Rangers and on top of that he has extra disciplinary points to his name which could count against him later in the season.

"There was also an incident where Mark de Vries was pushed by two hands in the box and Graham Weir should also have had a penalty as well.

"He has cheated the fans out of a good game between two fine sides.

"I was trying to speak to the referee and he called me to his room and lied. He told me he was going to report me for foul and abusive language because I called him a f****** cheat.

"No doubt I will be reported to the SFA but I have four or five witnesses who say I didn’t swear at him. Like most of his decisions he made it up."

Robertson has laudably attempted to introduce more flair to this Hearts team and his starting line-up on Saturday was a statement of intent in itself.

He went with a three-pronged attack bringing back De Vries and Ramon Pereira for their first starts following injury to aid the improving Dennis Wyness.

The trio had combined well to conjure an equaliser against Kilmarnock the previous weekend but Maybury’s dismissal meant the Jambos’ game plan had to be ripped up.

With Jamie McAllister needing to take a step back to replace the full-back Wyness also had to drop deeper into midfield.

This resulted all too often in high balls being launched towards De Vries, a tactic favoured and mastered by previous boss Craig Levein but which yielded little success here.

Until Maybury walked Hearts had looked by far the stronger side and the former Leeds defender was integral to their most dangerous moments.

First he planted a cross from the left onto the forehead of De Vries who was deliberate in his efforts to head the ball down and goalwards without mustering any real power.

Pereira then made for the byline and fed the ball back to Maybury who blasted a right-foot shot which beat Gordon Marshall but rattled back off the far post.

McAllister then headed narrowly wide from Robbie Neilson’s cross and Paul Hartley watched his low free-kick held at the second attempt by the visiting keeper.

’Well crept into things just before scoring with David Clarkson forcing a fine save from Craig Gordon and Mark Fitzpatrick volleying over after a mix-up between Steven Pressley and Neilson.

Controversy erupted at the end of a fine Motherwell move. Clarkson collected the ball in midfield and then intelligently picked out the run of Corrigan on the outside. The auxiliary midfielder was then nudged by Maybury as he prepared to shoot.

Within the context of a harsh rule, Rowbotham really had no option but to show red and Foran tucked the ball away with the minimum of fuss.

The striker should have doubled his team’s advantage soon after the interval when, after Gordon had pushed a Jim Paterson cross-cum-shot away, he fired against the post with the goal gaping.

There seemed to be a claim for a penalty every time Hearts threw the ball into the visitors’ box in the second half but only the De Vries incident in the 66th minute looked worthy of spot-kick.

Pereira was booked for his theatrical fall as he rounded Marshall which summed up an unhappy afternoon which at one point saw him engage in a verbal spat with De Vries.

Given the way they adapted to their numerical disadvantage and kept hold of the ball, Hearts could consider themselves unfortunate to have taken nothing from the match. Had that De Vries decision gone their way and levelled the score Robertson might have felt less sense of injustice.

He continued: "It wasn’t a bad day at the office from us it was a performance ruined by the referee. We had to play with ten men for the vast majority of the game. For all our effort and commitment the match was ruined for us."

Motherwell boss Terry Butcher had some sympathy with his counterpart but reckoned the game’s pivotal decision had been made correctly by the referee.

Butcher said: "I think we played well in the first half and the referee got it right with the penalty decision. Their man [Maybury] denied our player a clear goalscoring opportunity and he had to produce the red card.

"Hearts pressed very well as the match wore on and took the play to us. We didn’t start the second half too well but Richie Foran hit the post and had that one gone in it might have made things a bit more comfortable for us.

"I thought Hearts had a clear shout for a penalty when De Vries was pushed but we got away with it - that sort of decision hasn’t gone for us lately."

The result made Motherwell the first team outwith Rangers and Celtic to triumph domestically at Tynecastle since Dundee earned a 2-1 victory in October 2002.

However, Hearts have broader horizons now and Robertson’s priority is to pick up his team for Thursday’s trip to Switzerland to face Basel in the UEFA Cup and ensure the club’s European hopes remain alive going into the final Group 2 match at home to Ferencvaros next month.

Taken from the Scotsman

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