London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 30 Apr 2005 Hearts 0 Motherwell 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sunday Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Alan Campbell auth-> Iain Brines
6 of 019 ----- L SPL H

Hearts 0 - 0 Motherwell

Alan Campbell at Tynecastle

AFTER a fifth game without a win, John Robertson’s anxiety about his forthcoming summer review must be growing. A point at home against Motherwell could not have been more pointless as rivals Hibs all but secured a Uefa Cup place at Celtic Park.

It could have been even worse for the beleaguered Hearts manager, because Motherwell’s Richie Foran missed a penalty late in the first half. This wasn’t a game Hearts deserved to lose, but, equally, a full-strength side didn’t give the new Lithuanian owners vast confidence that next season will be the start of a sustained challenge to the Old Firm.

Sources close to the club were insisting before the game that Robertson’s assessment is just that; something that a new senior managerial appointment in any walk of life might expect to undergo. Whether it’s that simple, or more sinister, only time will tell.

At the very least, Robertson must have been hoping to secure fourth place when the league split into two, but this result will almost certainly condemn him to fifth spot.

To give the manager his due, he appeared calm and relaxed after the match. His often tetchy dealings with the press did not help him when news of the review became public knowledge, but yesterday he was reasonable to the point of conceding the match officials may have called Motherwell’s penalty award correctly.

As the game got under way there was no mass outpouring of affection from the stands for Robertson. But then again, affection has always been in short supply on match days at Tynecastle, as even Craig Levein would testify.

Earlier, the start had been delayed for a couple of minutes by Motherwell fans throwing amber and claret streamers on to the pitch beside Gordon Marshall, restored to the side in place of Barry John Corr. Amusing at first, the jape soon became tedious.

Terry Butcher’s aim in the remaining matches is to beat the 46 points secured by his side last season, and after a slow start Richie Foran nearly gave the visitors the lead with a low 20-yarder which Craig Gordon did well to save after the ball took a slight deflection off Robbie Neilson.

An early feature was the aerial tussles between David Partridge and Lee Miller, nearly all won by the latter until, as the half continued, the exchanges became increasingly physical with referee Iain Brines having to award free-kicks whenever the two clashed.

The official did himself no favours with his reluctance to administer anything other than cautionary words for these and the other persistent fouls which were disfiguring the game.

As Hearts took a firm grip, the ball rarely seemed to be out of the Motherwell penalty area. At the height of this barrage, Marshall made a fabulous low save from a Mikoliunas downward header, which Butcher later described as similar to Gordon Banks’ from Pele in the 1970 World Cup. Not quite, but it looked a certain goal until the veteran keeper swooped.

Only near the end of the half did Motherwell succeed in escaping from their bunker. Gordon had to make a good save from Foran, then, right on half-time, the visitors were awarded a penalty.

A free-kick into the box was handled by Andy Webster, and while Brines initially thought it was outside the area, linesman Steve Pullar, called it inside.

Up stepped Foran, but his shot struck the outside of the post and spun out of play.

Even after the 15-minute break, that miss seemed to affect both sides and there was a lack of urgency as the contest resumed.

Motherwell had the better of the opening 25 minutes but lacked punch. Hearts finished much the stronger, with Miller, Mikoliunas and sub Dennis Wyness all coming close … but not close enough to relieve the pressure on their manager.

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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