London Hearts Supporters Club

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John McGlynn (Caretaker) <-auth None auth-> John Underhill
Jankauskas Edgaras [G Buezelin 78] ;[G O'Connor 80]
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Youthful exuberance tames Hearts beast

Tony Mowbray’s youngsters matched Hearts’ brawn then let their skill do the talking, with Kevin Thomson to the fore Vladimir Romanov: exclusive interview with Hearts’ Tsar
A DERBY match is an assertion of identity. On the street leading to Easter Road, a large Hearts towel hung stiffly from a flat window; outside the ground, a Hibernian supporter wore a home shirt with “Albert Kidd” on the back, the Dundee player whose goals stopped Hearts winning the league in 1986. When teams from the same city come together, you know that it is a clash of contrasts.

The differences between these two sides are vivid. Tony Mowbray has now faced four different Hearts managers — Craig Levein, John Robertson, George Burley and John McGlynn — during his stable spell in charge of Hibs. The Tynecastle side contains seasoned internationals, such as Takis Fyssas and Edgaras Jankauskas, on generous wages; Hibs are economically sculpted round the promise of potential, young talents who are still to make their way in the game.

Hearts shudder with brawn; Hibs strive for elegant finesse. So in the shake up, we wondered how these elements would fall into place. Most of all, we wanted to know if Hibs could rise to the challenge of ending Hearts’ unbeaten run.

When they met at Tynecastle in August, it was Hearts who surged emphatically to a 4-0 win. Mowbray did not feel the need to use that to inspire his players, for he knew the memory still lurked in their minds. He had also seen the way that they had turned it to positive effect, as Hibs had taken 27 points form the 33 possible since that defeat. This was the 13th game of the season, a daunting number, and the home side chose their moment well.

When you looked at the Hibs team, you were struck by the tenderness of its years, the mere buds of experience, and also its slender physique. Yet resolve comes from within. Scott Brown will never yield to anybody, despite his smaller stature, and Kevin Thomson hurls himself into tackles with a vigorous urge. And so Hibs sought to find an equilibrium between force and subtlety.

“We saw off their physical attributes and then our football players got on top,” Mowbray noted proudly. “You’ve got to show patience. I’m pleased for the players, because you need (to develop) the experience of how to win football matches.”

Thomson was the game’s dominant influence, his shaggy blond hair and dark stubble failing to add years to his cherubic face. He is a 21-year-old who has come of age, though. Playing in front of the back four, his performance was framed by maturity, discipline and visionary passing. One 40-yard crossfield ball to Derek Riordan seemed to float through the air with nonchalant ease, before the striker pulled it down, skipped past two challenges and rifled a shot over the bar.

Hearts were not without their moments, but the Hibs defence stood firm, Humphrey Rudge adding an abrasive edge and Gary Caldwell forcefully vigilant. It was the sparkle when they strung their play together, though, that caught the eye. They attempted to string out neat patterns with the ball and, when they did, the contours glistened, like a spider’s web reflecting the light. One move, which saw Michael Stewart feed Riordan and his cross almost turned in by Garry O’Connor , was breathtaking in it simplicity and execution.

Even when the game became fractious, the Hibs players whose temperatures rise the quickest still held their nerve. Brown was fearless when he challenged Jankauskas in the second half, but he barely reacted when the Lithuanian angrily shoved him to the ground to earn a red card. Riordan, too, did not become overly embroiled in tussles with Samuel Camazzola. “We have players who can rise to that, but they managed to keep their composure,” Mowbray added.

Cool heads were needed in the scrambling intent. When Guillaume Beuzelin scored Hibs’ first goal, the home bench leapt with delight. All but Mowbray, who retained his passiveness. He then bounded to the edge of his technical area and clapped sharply, anxiously motioning for his players to stay vigilant, for he knew they were at their most vulnerable then. But they did not let their concentration slip. Minutes later they had snatched a second through O’Connor ’s 50th goal for the club and Easter Road seemed to sway.

At the end, Hibs goalkeeper Zbigniew Malkowski jogged round the pitch collecting scarves thrown by jubilant fans. Each was a memento of a telling moment. “For Hearts to lose their first game of the season at Easter Road is good for the fans,” said Beuzelin with Gallic understatement. But the breadth of his smile told the full story.

It was a day for affirming your sense of independence.

Taken from

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