London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
George Burley <-auth Gary Ralston auth-> Craig Thomson
[R Foran pen 75]
17 of 021 Rudi Skacel 40 ;Edgaras Jankauskas 70 L SPL H


Actor Ken looks on as keeper Craig steals the show with great late save HEARTS 2 MOTHERWELL 1
By Gary Ralston

SCOTS actor Ken Stott spends his screen life chasing serial killers but it's his favourite team who are leaving victims strewn across the SPL.

Stott plays DCI Red Metcalfe in BBC drama Messiah and his character would be hard pushed to solve the incident that had everyone talking as they left Tynecastle.

How the hell did Craig Gordon make the injury-time save that kept his side on the run that has seen them make their best start to a season in 22 years?

With literally the last touch of the ball he dived low to his left to touch a David Clarkson volley from 12 yards round the post and preserve the Jambos' 100 per cent league record.

Season-ticket holder Stott had forsaken his usual seat in the John Robertson Lounge to accept an invite into the directors' box and looked on as the action reached a climax to match anything any scriptwriter could produce.

Two rows in front,Vladimir Romanov also looked suitably impressed as Gordon again underlined his phenomenal worth to the SPL leaders - and transfer potential if he ever decides to quit the club.

Gordon's superb save was greeted with roars of delight from more than 15,000 Jambos,who took every seat available to them,and Scotland fans should be cheering too ahead of the World Cup qualifiers against Italy and Norway.

Afterwards,Well boss Terry Butcher playfully railed against his goalkeeping coach Peter Latchford, who worked with Gordon at Hearts before being replaced by Mal Webster in the summer.

Butcher threatened to sack Latchford this morning for teaching his protege too well, while Gordon admitted it was good to be involved after feeling unemployed for much of the campaign so far.

He said: "The save was important and came at a time in the game when we were holding on. But the boys in the dressing room were telling me that's the first serious thing I've had to do all season so I was brought down to earth with a bump.

"It was a good save and an important three points, particularly with other results in the league going our way.We scrapped away for 90 minutes and just about deserved it.

"Graeme Smith pulled off a few good saves for Motherwell, especially in the first half, so we just about edged it. Had we only taken a point, it would have felt more like a defeat.

"We dominated without looking as threatening as we have done in recent games.This game reminded us that even though we're up there at the top of the table we need to keep doing the things that got us there in the first place.

"The manager stressed afterwards that the performance was nowhere near what we're capable of producing."

The point would surely not have been lost on Romanov,who is under pressure from his manager to release funds for a couple of new signings before Wednesday's transfer deadline.

Neither side particularly impressed in a game where the ball spent more time in the air than Richard Branson.

Hearts have won five out of five and are developing a steely resolve that will stand them in good stead for a legitimate title challenge.

But they cannot trust Saulius Mikoliunas on the right as he is a midfielder who gifts possession too cheaply.

Thankfully for the Jambos Rudi Skacel more than makes up for it on the other side, and his right-foot shot inside Smith's post four minutes from half-time was his fifth goal in five games since joining the club on loan from Marseille. Already a firm favourite at Tynecastle, he played to the packed crowd like James Brown at the Harlem Apollo.

Two minutes after scoring Skacel was left in a heap after a hefty challenge on a knee injury that was already nursing extensive bruising.

He attempted to limp off before physio Alan Rae insisted he wait on a stretcher then, with the physio back on the other side of the pitch, he leapt off and staggered back towards the pitch.

It was pure showmanship from a hard wee sod you suspect would try to play on through anything - even a broken leg.

Hearts had the best of the first half in which Motherwell banished their recent defensive woes, although keeper Smith made two super stops to deny Skacel and Edgaras Jankauskas.

The game should have been over 20minutes from time when Jankauskas swivelled ona cross from Takis Fyssas and hit his first SPL goal off the underside of the bar.

But Motherwell were back in the game within four minutes when Richie Foran fired past Gordon from the spot after ref Craig Thomson ruled a Julien Brellier challenge on Jim Hamilton unfair.

Well's strike set up a barnstorming finish and although Hamilton should have fired his side level with a five-yard effort near the end, the Fir Park club could have no complaints about Gordon's injury-time brilliance.

Hearts boss George Burley said: "We showed today that we're way short of the finished article, although I can't take away from the spirit and commitment of the team.

"At some point we want to compete with the Old Firm. Six weeks ago we said that and people laughed but if we add two or three players who knows what we can do."

Butcher said: "I can't fault my players for effort, although we did lack a little bit of quality on the ball. However, we didn't buckle when we went two down.

"Hearts are an energetic team with bags of skill. Full credit to George for moulding a side with a winning mentality.

"Whether they split the Old Firm still remains to be seen but they'll winmoregames than they did last season MAN OF THE MATCH Craig Gordon (Hearts

Taken from the Daily Record

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