London Hearts Supporters Club

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John McGlynn (Caretaker) <-auth Douglas Alexander auth-> John Underhill
Jankauskas Edgaras [G Buezelin 78] ;[G O'Connor 80]
26 of 099 ----- L SPL A

Hibernian 2 Hearts 0: Beuzelin bursts the bubble

Douglas Alexander at Easter Road
THEIR manager left them last weekend and now Hearts have lost their unbeaten Premierleague record as well. Easter Road is the last place they would have chosen to relinquish it after starting the season with 10 victories and two draws. The visiting support departed chastened after arriving smugly, singing “We are unbeatable” to the tune previously reserved for Vladimir Romanov, and how the Hibs’ fans enjoyed baiting their guests as they did so.

It was unlucky 13 only to the extent that Hearts had to battle for the last half-hour without Edgaras Jankauskas, their Lithuanian totem. Booked in the final minute of the first half for persistent fouling, he petulantly pushed Scott Brown after being fouled by him 16 minutes into the second. It is the sort of reaction you would have expected from the often-combustible Brown, not an experienced international striker who has played in a Champions League final. It was perhaps the first sign of a lapse in Hearts’ discipline post-Burley.

Hibs still had to win it and did so with Tony Mowbray, their manager, astutely pushing on Ivan Sproule for Michael Stewart and using the Northern Irishman’s prodigious pace to stretch depleted Hearts to breaking point. With 13 minutes left, Sproule speared in behind Takis Fyssas and onto Gary Caldwell’s pass, then fizzed his cross into Hearts’ box where Guillaume Beuzelin’s ghosting run and precise sidefoot into the far corner did the rest.

Before the waves of celebration had subsided in the three sides of the ground filled by the home fans, they had another goal to savour. This time, Hearts only half-cleared a corner and then failed to clear their box with their well-rehearsed offside trap. David Murphy clipped a cross in from the left and Garry O’Connor had time to chest the ball down before blasting in his 50th goal for Hibs. He might have added his 51st before the end but for a good save from Craig Gordon.

Nevertheless, Hibs’ revenge was already complete and they have now closed to within four points of their rivals at the top of the Premierleague after a stealthy pursuit which has brought 27 points from a possible 33 since they lost 4-0 at Tynecastle on August 7. Mowbray said he had not mentioned that result as motivation but Hearts had thoughtfully produced a video entitled ‘Demolition Derby’ as a reminder.

After Jankauskas’ departure, Hibs knew they had the chance to do some damage of their own. Before the goals finally came, Derek Riordan, who had been persistently menacing to Hearts, escaped down the left and cut inside Steven Pressley but was knocked over by Samuel Camazzola before bending the free-kick narrowly wide. O’Connor then went down this same prairie on the right of Hearts’ defence and attempted to pick out Sproule’s arrival at the far post, but Fyssas had tracked him diligently to make a saving header.

Hearts’ best moments also came from the left through Rudi Skacel, despite the fact that he was well-policed by Caldwell. The Czech midfielder demanded a strong hand from Zbigniew Malkowski early on after Julien Brellier slipped a dagger of a pass through to him on the edge of the box, and he then tested the Polish goalkeeper with a free-kick after Beuzelin went unpunished for smashing through Brellier with a challenge. Later, Skacel would spring onto Michal Pospisil’s flick and send in a shot which was deflected by Caldwell’s challenge into Malkowski’s chest, when it could just as easily have spun into his net.

Meanwhile, Riordan was tormenting Robbie Neilson and making something of a nonsense of a recent campaign for the Hearts right-back to join the Scotland squad. Released by Stewart’s perceptive pass, Riordan got his head up and curled his cross to the back post where O’Connor should have converted it after timing his run to evade Andy Webster and Fyssas. Riordan then left Neilson on his backside as the Hearts player made a clumsy attempt at a foul and skipped inside before putting too much elevation into his right-foot shot.

These interludes of fluency were interspersed with longer passages in which meaty tackles saw the game played in staccato. Brellier and Beuzelin were locked in a Gallic battle for midfield dominance, while Scots such as Paul Hartley, Scott Brown and Kevin Thomson buzzed around them. Stewart and Hartley, two players who have swapped sides of this derby’s divide, clashed at one stage and the cameo suggested that Hearts had got the better deal as Hartley nimbly relieved a ponderous Stewart of possession before being barged in the back by him.

With Brellier constrained slightly by a harsh early booking, Beuzelin started to assert himself. His clipped cross was helped on by Stewart’s header before Gordon punched away as O’Connor arrived hungrily in his six-yard box. Beuzelin almost forced in the resulting corner delivered by Thomson but was denied by the suffocating marking of Webster.

Hibs’ started the second half stronger but the next real chance fell to Hartley who finished weakly with his left foot when he had time to switch to his right. John McGlynn, Hearts’ caretaker manager, then replaced Brellier with Lee Wallace but soon discovered that he had taken off the wrong player on a booking.

STAR MAN: Gary Caldwell (Hibernian)

Player ratings: Hibernian: Malkowski 6, Caldwell 8, Hogg 7 (Smith 50min, 7), Rudge 7, Murphy 7, Beuzelin 8, Thomson 7, Stewart 6 (Sproule 67min, 7), Brown 6, O’Connor 7, Riordan 7 (Shiels 84min, 6)

Hearts: Gordon 6, Neilson 6, Pressley 7, Webster 7, Fyssas 7, Camazzola 7, Brellier 6 (Wallace 61min, 7), Hartley 7, Skacel 7, Pospisil 6 (Elliot 83min, 6), Jankauskas 5

Booked: Brellier 7, Fyssas 25, Jankauskas 45, Camazzola 66, Elliot 89

Sent off: Jankauskas 62

Referee: J Underhill

Attendance: 17,180

Taken from

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