London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 27 Aug 2005 Hearts 2 Motherwell 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Evening Times ------ Report Type-> Srce->
George Burley <-auth None auth-> Craig Thomson
[R Foran pen 75]
15 of 021 Rudi Skacel 40 ;Edgaras Jankauskas 70 L SPL H

Well show pretenders they must polish act

GEORGE Burley has trotted out all the usual soundbites as Hearts have surged five points clear at the top of the SPL this season.

"We're not getting carried away," has been a particular favourite of the former Ipswich and Derby manager in his short spell in charge at Tynecastle.

For impartial followers of Scottish football, excited that the Old Firm's dominance of the top flight may, at long last, be broken, it has made for worrying listening.

Yet, after his side's unconvincing 2-1 win against a depleted Motherwell team at home on Saturday, there appears to be good reason to remain calm about the Jambos' stunning start.

Hearts toiled for long spells against a Fir Park side that was missing no fewer than five first-team regulars on Saturday and were fortunate to secure all three points.

Indeed, had it not been for the superb fingertip save from Scotland keeper Craig Gordon in injury time that somehow kept a fine David Clarkson volley out of the net, Hearts would have drawn the game.

The goals of Rudi Skacel and Edgaras Jankauskas aside, there was little in this outing to suggest that Hearts will still be challenging one or both of their Glasgow rivals for the

silverware come May.

Burley, though, is shrewd enough to realise his side are living dangerously and that he desperately needs to add to his squad if they are to challenge the likes of Celtic and Rangers in the long haul.

With an eagerly-anticipated showdown against the Scottish champions coming up in Edinburgh at the end of next month, the Hearts manager knows he requires fresh faces soon.

He said: "I would like to add one or two new faces before the transfer window closes and have spoken to our owner Vladimir Romanov about doing so. Our squad won't be able to compete with the Old Firm unless we do."

However, Hearts' difficulties were due, in no little part, to the resolve of a spirited

Steelemen side that rose to the challenge after some poor results and a series of injury setbacks.

Young centre- half William Kinniburgh, who shrugged off a back injury to take part, and his defensive partner Stephen Craigan answered their growing band of critics with an assured display in Gorgie.

Motherwell striker Jim Hamilton, whose intelligent play earned the penalty that Richie Foran converted, also enhanced his burgeoning reputation with a typically committed contribution.

Andy Smith, who has joined the Steelmen on loan from Preston until January, was

another who impressed with a lively individual showing.

The Irish player feels Motherwell can take heart from the performance even though it is their third league match in a row they have finished off without any pointless.

He stressed: "We produced a good performance against Hearts and can take a lot of positives from it. If we keep working hard in training and playing like we did at the weekend then our luck will change."

Smith went on: "Having won all their opening games, Hearts are now being tipped to challenge for the title. But we were more than a match for them.

"In fact, we could have beaten them. I think we can take on anybody, anywhere, on our day.

"We have a break now due to the international fixtures and I think we will look at certain things in training and try to improve further.

"Hopefully, we should get some players back for our next game, too. If we can get some boys off the treatment table and onto the pitch we can get back to winning ways."

The woes of Motherwell boss Terry Butcher worsened when former Celtic and Scotland midfielder Phil O'Donnell limped off in the first half with a groin injury.

Yet, Butcher remains hopeful the lay-off will allow some of his crocked personnel to force their way back into contention for a first-team place.

Taken from Evening Times

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