London Hearts Supporters Club

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

So Mr Foulkes? Title chase ain't a two-horse race now


UNLUCKY 13th. Having gone a dozen league games without anyone bettering them, dominated headlines since the summer and started the match at the top of the league table, it all had to come to an end.

After ten victories and two draws, the first defeat came at the hands of their biggest rivals and it hurt.

Just ask Steven Pressley.

The Hearts captain emerged afterwards a bruised and battered man. An accidental collision in the opening minute had given him a shiner as a memento but it was the quick one-two in the 78th and 80th minutes which did the real damage.

Guillaume Beuzelin got the opener and Garry O'Connor, netting his 50th goal for the club, doubled the tally to ensure no way back for the visitors but, according to Pressley, it was the needless red card for Edgaras Jankauskas which swung the match in Hibs' favour.

"I thought there was very little in the game until the sending off," said the skipper. "There was little to separate the teams but Hibs utilised the extra man very well. We hadn't played particularly well but we were relatively comfortable."

He claimed he had not seen the two-handed push on Scott Brown which earned the Lithuanian his second yellow card (the first had been the result of persistent foul play) in the 62nd minute but still refused to lay all the blame for defeat at the feet of the petulant striker.

"I asked John [Underhill, the referee] the reason for it and he said that Edgaras had raised his hands. He's disappointed but it's part and parcel of football. We don't blame Edgaras."

He may not, but several others do. But Pressley still felt Hearts had contributed to their own downfall. Several of his teammates had been warning that all good runs must come to an end at some time and that throughout the course of a league campaign there would have to be at least one defeat. But even with hindsight, the defender was not of the same opinion.

"It didn't have to happen. Everyone says that runs have to come to an end at some time but I don't see why, if you apply yourselves in the right manner."

The last time they met, Hearts had done just that and Hibs had failed to match them, succumbing to a 4-0 defeat.

It remains the Tynecastle club's most convincing win of the campaign thus far and the Easter Road side's most comprehensive loss.

But in the intervening period, Tony Mowbray's men had displayed the kind of consistency that can only be described as admirable from a still-maturing team.

The derby defeat has been an irksome memory for the guys who played for Hibs that afternoon. As is always the case when bettered by near neighbours, the lapse of time between that game at Tynecastle and yesterday's match had been too long.

But revenge is a dish best served cold and Hibs were certainly cool and calculated in the way they executed this gameplan. Yes, there was all the passion and end-to-end hurly burly action associated with derby matches but despite the desperation to make amends for the result in the season's first head-to-head, they stuck resolutely to the system, soaking up Hearts pressure and making the most of their pace and guile in quick breakaways.

That worked all the better when the absence of Jankauskas offered them more room to manoeuvre. "I think that we got extra space in the middle and I could then make the run and score an easy goal," said Hibs midfielder Beuzelin.

"And after the red card, we had a lot of possibilities to score. We have now closed the gap to four points and have revenge for the first derby. That is good. And Hearts have lost their first game of the season at Easter Road and that is good for the fans."

That was the real driving force behind this result. Incentive (if any more was ever needed in a derby match, especially this one) was handed to the Leith side on a plate when Hearts chairman George Foulkes had - rather too triumphally, given the relative infancy of the season and the uncertainty about how things will pan out now that George Burley has departed - declared the title challenge a two-horse race. In doing so he wrote off Rangers but, more pertinently with this match only a couple of days away, he also poo-pooed the notion of their city rivals sustaining their stay in the league's higher echelon.

The comments now look foolhardy, at best. If the desire to leave Foulkes with egg on his face was not enough and the quest for revenge was not the spark needed, then there was always the enjoyment gleaned from stuffing up the unbeaten run and the points which helped close the gap on Hearts and extend that between themselves and the defending champions.

Beuzelin now insists that overhauling the four points that separate the Leith side from top of the table is not a ridiculous notion.

"It's possible," he said, "because the season is long. I know it is difficult to say but it was good to win today. Now it is only four points and Rangers only drew 1-1 so that was good for us as well. It's a very interesting championship. "

His manager will tether such expectations before they really get airborne. Mowbray has been quoted as saying that, as he is not from Edinburgh, he feels he is more detached when it comes to the fixture the fans consider do-or-die. In the heat of battle, and still haunted by nightmares of derbies-past (this was only the second derby win masterminded by the Englishman), that may not be the kind of line the Hibs fans wanted to hear but yesterday it was probably the perfect counter-balance for a team littered with natural-born Hibees desperate to prove their credentials as credible challengers to the Old Firm dominance.

But while Hibs could draw on the wisdom of the man who was voted Manager of the Year last season, Hearts were not only a man down on the pitch, they remain a man down in the dug-out as the search for Burley's successor goes on.

"I think it's easy when you lose games to look at the reasons and suggest it's because the manager has left," said Pressley.

"But I don't know if that's definitely the cause. In an ideal world we would have a new manager in tomorrow.

"I'm sure that Phil Anderton and the directors will make sure we get the right man."

East, west, who's best?

It has been the topic of national debate this season and, thanks to the early form of both Hearts and Hibs, the east coast has been edging it.

In Edinburgh terms, it had been the west end of the capital which had been dominating matters but things have changed. Nationally and parochially, the tide seems to have turned in favour of the men from the east.

Taken from the Scotsman

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