London Hearts Supporters Club

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Pressley Steven [A Thompson 25] ;[C Beattie 77]
18 of 033 Paul Hartley 71 L SPL H

Hearts will be strong for league showdown

TONY MOWBRAY today insisted he had no fears that Hearts will give anything less than 100 per cent when they face Hibs’ Euro rivals Aberdeen in Sunday’s SPL day of reckoning.

Defeat by the Dons trimmed Hibs’ lead in the race for a place in next season’s UEFA Cup to just three points with just one match of the domestic league remaining.

The Easter Road side also enjoy the luxury of a superior goal difference but, while they face title-chasing Rangers at home on the final day of the season, Hearts, with nothing to play for other than pride, head to Pittodrie to meet an Aberdeen side sensing they can leave Hibs empty-handed.

It will take a six-goal swing thanks to the fact Hibs have found the net 64 times as opposed to the Dons doing so on just 42 occasions - provided, of course, both Capital sides lose.

But it’s a nightmare scenario as far as Hibs fans are concerned, although Mowbray is adamant his players’ destiny remains firmly in their own hands. And he also believes the supporters fears that, and it must be stressed these are NOT the Easter Road manager’s words, Hearts will "lie down" to prevent their arch-rivals tasting UEFA Cup football is simply unfounded.

Mowbray said: "I would just say I am convinced Hearts will approach the game very professionally.

"We have played against them plenty of times this year and every game has been a tough one. They are a good, professional side and I have every respect for them.

"I have no fears that they will be giving anything less than 100 per cent. Aberdeen will have a very tough game on their hands as we will also have."

Mowbray is well aware that Rangers will arrive in Edinburgh determined to win although even a victory isn’t guaranteed to deliver the title as their fate will depend on the outcome of Celtic’s match against Motherwell at Fir Park.

But, while events elsewhere may dictate the final outcome for the league’s top four sides, Mowbray is determined his players don’t try to rely on a helping hand from others. He said: "Looking forward to the weekend, I am confident about it - that’s the way we have to approach it.

"The last time Rangers came to Easter Road we did not get the result we wanted but we played particularly well that day and deserved to get something from the match.

"Such performances as that and our recent win at Celtic Park give you the confidence to know you can compete with the Old Firm, particularly on your own pitch.

"It is not a game to fear, it’s the last match of the season, the supporters are all around you saying ‘let’s have a good finish, let’s end the season on a high’.

"We want to secure that third post with an up-beat performance. It would be good to win the European place ourselves rather than stumble over the line."

Mowbray would undoubtedly accept taking third place on goal difference rather than lose out completely having seen his side pass up opportunities against Motherwell and Aberdeen to end the race.

He could well point to how luck went against Hibs and in the Dons’ favour at the weekend. A missed penalty, another which referee Mike Ritchie appeared to award, only to change his mind and a Gary Smith header which came back off the woodwork with only seconds to play.

But he chose instead to simply focus on Sunday’s match. He said: "Maybe we were meant to have a great day in front of our own supporters. To be honest, Sunday can’t come quickly enough for us.

"Aberdeen still have a chink of light. They need to have a good day, Rangers to have a good day and for both ourselves and Hearts to have a bad day. I’d far rather be in our position than theirs.

"We’ll have to wait and see what happens. I don’t want to look at negatives but, over the course of a season, you tend to finish where you deserve. We’ve been battling with Aberdeen for a long time, we were chasing them for a while and then got our noses in front and now they are chasing us - it’s been an exciting season."

And, while Mowbray will be urging his players to remain entirely focused on their game, he accepts the reaction of Sunday’s crowd will keep them informed of how events at Pittodrie and Fir Pare are unfolding. He said: "I am sure there will be a lot of mixed messages from the crowd. If our fans start cheering, does that mean Hearts have scored or will they be trying to wind up Rangers that Celtic are ahead?

"There will be a lot of rumbles around the ground as the scores elsewhere come in. I’ve been involved in enough last day situations down south with play-offs and the like to know how the crowds react to the scores elsewhere. But the players must remain focused on what is happening in their own game and what they have to do."

The SPL may have been much maligned for producing meaningless games at the end of a season but this year there couldn’t be much more excitement with the title, European football and relegation all still to be settled on the final day.

Mowbray said: "It’s been exciting all the way along. Even before the split after 33 games we were asking who was going to make it and who wasn’t. Look at the Premiership in England on Sunday. At one stage or another all four clubs were staying up. Now, in our league, we have two teams fighting for the title, two going for Europe and four battling against relegation.

"It is vital we go and play and try to win. We know what we have to do against Rangers but they will have their own agenda. They will be very powerful, they know they have to win the game regardless of what happens at Fir Park. I am sure they will be more concerned with us than what’s happening with Celtic, just as we will be looking after ourselves rather than worrying what’s going on at Pittodrie.

"It’s shaping up to be a very exciting game."

• LONDON Hibs have notched a historic double, becoming the first fans’ side in the city to win the League and Cup double.

Having won the Association of Provincial Supporters’ Clubs in London League for the fifth time in six years, the English-based Hibees have now lifted the Dave Baister Cup for the first time. An extra-time goal from midfielder Andy Lee was enough to beat Norwich City in the final.

Taken from the Scotsman

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