London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2005-06--> All for 20051126
<-Page <-Team Sat 26 Nov 2005 Motherwell 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type zunknown ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Graham Rix <-auth Archie Mcgregor auth-> Iain Brines
[B McLean 40]
14 of 025 Paul Hartley pen 90 L SPL A

Motherwell 1 Hearts 1: Hartley rescues unlikely point

WE are becoming used to the downright unfathomable surrounding Hearts these days. After a succession of headline-grabbing departures, the suggestion by chairman Roman Romanov that a director of football is apparently already working incognito for the Edinburgh side is the latest source of raised eyebrows. No further clues were offered on his identity yesterday. But just for good measure, matters are no less baffling on the field of play.

Quite how Hearts find themselves a point closer to Celtic at the head of the Premierleague table this morning after a performance that might, at its kindest, be described as out of sorts, is the stuff of genuine head-scratching — as well as great delight if you happen to crave the continuation of a meaningful race for the flag.

The visitors knew it would be tough going at Fir Park — they hadn’t won there for three years — but it took until the cusp of full-time for them to salvage a grimly-fought point, courtesy of a Paul Hartley penalty. After getting their tactics and attitude almost completely wrong for the opening 45 minutes, they went 4-4-2, became more direct and just about justified their reward. Sooner or later however, the performances will need to step up a gear — five games on the road without a victory is unlikely to be good enough form in the long term.

Not surprisingly, Graham Rix, the Hearts coach, preferred to dwell on the positive. Taking account of Celtic’s demise against Dunfermline, he said: “That could be a very big point for us come the end of the season. I’m happy with the lads, especially in the second half.”

It has of course been just another week of intrigue at Tynecastle. For the Hearts support, who again, as has been customary this season, turned up in sizeable numbers, it is what happens when the January transfer window is prised open that is of most interest. Their side certainly appeared one or two players short on quality in this game.Establishing the identity of the director of football allegedly secretly working for the club probably comes a close second.

The one new arrival in the past few days, Campbell Ogilvie as general secretary, did not exactly have the visiting fans singing anthems in his praise. In view of the scratchy, unconvincing, fare served up by their side in the first half, it was little surprise to find them in subdued mood. Hearts were hardly overrun, but they were patently second best when it came to manufacturing any kind of goal threat. Motherwell, organised and enthusiastic, were in no mood to accommodate the type of expansive game upon which the Edinburgh side once thrived. Diligent Richie Foran and Shaun Fagan offered both grit and invention in the midfield and as the half progressed they inexorably stepped up the pressure. Twice in the space of 60 seconds, Fagan came close, with the second of these being a testing drive which flipped off the outside of the post. Alan McCormack, impressing with his industry, then had a blistered shot deflected clear until finally the visitors yielded. An intelligently taken free kick saw Brian Kerr release Jim Hamilton down the flank and his cross was knocked home by Brian McLean from 10 yards.

On the restart Rix replaced Julien Brellier with Stephen Simmons. Just as discernible was a change of approach, with the sweeping midfield passes now replaced with something more direct and unadorned. The results were mixed. Far more territory came Hearts’ way and the home defence found itself pushed back so far at times it was close to joining the visiting support behind Graeme Smith’s goal. But in truth, for a goalkeeper charged with keeping out apparent championship contenders, Smith had a remarkably untroubled afternoon.

If there were need of admonishment for Terry Butcher’s men, it had to be around their wasteful use of the severely rationed possession that came their way in the second half. Hamilton pounded around but Scott McDonald was increasingly reduced to watching intended passes drift hopelessly past. It wasn’t a day when his campaign for a potential call-up to the Scotland squad, rather than the Australian international set-up, gathered much momentum.

If there was going to be any way back for Hearts, a set piece appeared the only likely avenue. The visitors seemed to recognise this themselves as a series of penalty appeals of varying plausibility were pursued, including a collision involving Rudi Skacel for which the Czech was booked for simulation. Yet, with the clock running down, one final tumble in the box, by Andy Webster after a tug by McLean, granted salvation. Iain Brines, the referee, finally pointed to the spot and Hartley calmly stroked it home.

STAR MAN: Shaun Fagan (Motherwell)

Player ratings. Motherwell:Smith 6; Corrigan 6, Craigan 6, McLean 6, Quinn 6; McCormack 6 (Kinniburgh 88min, 3), Fagan 8, Kerr 7, Foran 7 (Fitzpatrick 80min, 5); Hamilton 7, McDonald 6 (Clarkson 73min, 5)

Hearts: Gordon 6; Neilson 6, Pressley 6, Webster 7, Fyssas 5; Mikoliunas 6 (Bednar 61min, 6), Brellier 5 (Simmons h-t, 6), McAllister 6; Hartley 7; Elliot 7 (Cesnauskis 81min, 5), Skacel 6

Booked: Corrigan (37min), Hamilton (37min), Elliot (38min), Skacel (53min), McLean (57min), Neilson (68min), McCormack (71min), Hartley (89min)

Referee: I Brines

Attendance: 8,131

<-Page <-Team Sat 26 Nov 2005 Motherwell 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © 2005 |