London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2006-07--> All for 20061202
<-Page <-Team Sat 02 Dec 2006 St Mirren 2 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Stuart Gillespie auth-> Charlie Richmond
Hartley Paul [S Kean 19] ;[S Kean 22]
3 of 015 Saulius Mikoliunas 1 ;Marius Zaliukas 51 L SPL A

Saints 2-2 Heart of Midlothian

by Stuart Gillespie

Saints ended a run of three straight defeats with a draw against a Hearts side that once again find themselves in turmoil. A double from Stewart Kean was enough to earn the Buddies a share of the spoils, but the real controversy was about someone who wasn't even playing.

Once again whoever picks the Hearts team - be it Valdas Ivanauskas, Vladimir Romanov or some mystery man - decided to take action for something that's happened away from a match and drop Steven Pressley. Whatever he's done, it must be pretty serious - you don't drop your captain unless you have a very good reason... or are a mad man who talks nonsense about monkeys and the Cold War. Well, no one can accuse Ivanauskas of doing that.

Gus MacPherson finally made some changes to his starting lineup, and they were far less controversial. Stewart Kean replaced Billy Mehmet, Garry Brady replaced Richard Brittain and Kevin McGowne surprisingly came in for Alan Reid. Even more surprisingly, there was no place for David McKenna on the bench. For novelty value, Saints lined up with 1-10 - only Brady (number 14) ruined things.

After the last few games, the last things Saints wanted to do was to concede the first goal, especially inside the first minute. Sadly, they failed to do that. Edgaras Jankauskas produced a great cross that evaded the entire Saints defence - who probably hadn't realised the game had started. Saulius Mikoliunas was thus unmarked and had no trouble volleying past Tony Bullock. Oops!

Instead of just withering away, however, Saints responded. Hugh Murray had a shot, Simon Lappin fired a great chance over the bar before Craig Gordon denied Kean with a fantastic stop. He also produced a similar save to prevent Kirk Broadfoot from scoring with a header, but a foul had already been given.

hearts also had a few chances, Jankauskas forcing a good save from Bullock before he dragged a shot wide.

There has been a lot of debate on the web in recent weeks regarding whether Kean should replace Mehmet in the starting lineup. Mehmet seems to have done a lot of hard work whilst not getting the breaks in front of goal, whilst Kean offers something a bit different. A three minute period in the first half provided a definitive answer.

First, Andy Millen swung a free kick into the box that John Sutton nodded down and Kean lashed past Gordon. 1-1. Three minutes later, Brady found him with an excellent pass that he superbly placed past Gordon and into the net. 2-1. Easy. Just like that, Kean proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he should be playing with Sutton when fit. Case closed.

Sadly, Kean didn't stay fit for long. Two minutes after his goal, to be precise, and he had to be replaced with Mehmet. Hearts also took the chance to replace Christophe Berra with Marius Zaliukas - for no obvious reason other than they could.

Hearts culd have been level again after 33 minutes, when Cesnauskas hit a fantastic shot that Bullock could only palm away. Andrius Velicka scored the rebound, but was deemed to be offside and the goal was ruled out.

There were some rather tasty challenges flying about before the break, with Paul Hartley picking up a yellow for a foul on Hugh Murray. David van Zanten and Neil McCann also entered referee Charlie Richmond's book for a spat that took place a few minutes before the interval.

Three minutes after the break, Saints could have doubled their advantage when Broadfoot crossed for Sutton, but the ball was just out of his reach.

In late October, Saints fans gave abuse to Charlie Adam - only to see him score a free kick for Rangers. They haven't learnt. Before a free kick was taken, Hartley was on the receiving end of similar treatment. The result? Hartley took the kick, Zaliukas got the header and the ball was in the net. Hartley promptly ran the length of the North Bank and somehow avoided a booking. Mind you, as Richmond was fairly useless all day - giving Hearts free kicks for dives and some dubious fouls, whilst failing to penalise them for making similar tackles - I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised. Remember though, according to Romanov it's Hearts who are on the receiving end of the bad decisions!

With forty minutes left, neither side was willing to settle for a point. Lappin tested Gordon with a volley before Velicka crossed for Jankauskas, only for his shot to hit the bar.

Saints replaced Brady with Molloy, before came a moment we've all waited years and years for. Hartley went in high on someone - possibly McGowne. Richmond for once made the correct decision. Suddenly, Hartley realised he was in trouble, and Richmond promptly showed him his second yellow card.

Paul Hartley has been hated by Saints fans since he dived on Mark Yardley's Saints debut and got Paul McIntyre sent off. Since then, he's scored against us for Hamilton, Hibs, Morton and St. Johnstone - whilst conspiring with Alan Main to get Saints relegated in 2001. If he was ever in any doubt as to just how much he is hated at Love Street, it was removed today. His dismissal saw nearly every Saints fan rise to their feet and cheer - the resulting noise possibly being even bigger than the celebrations for one of Kean's goals! That's how desperate Saints fans have been to see Hartley sent off in Paisley, and finally they had their wish.

The game fizzled out a bit after that. Alex Burke came on for Mehmet, who'd picked up an injury, whilst Broadfoot wastes a free kick by blasting it into the stand.

Was a point a fair result? Probably. Was it what either side needed? Definitely not. Both need wins, having now gone since eight and nine games respectively without a victory.

On the plus side, Saints moved a point away from bottom placed Dunfermline, who were hammered by Kilmarnock (who we play next!). Dundee United also lost, however Motherwell managed a late winner against Caley Thistle.

Today was a great improvement, but the injury to Kean was a major blow. Hopefully, Saints manager Gus MacPherson will see sense and play Burke or Mark Corcoran, as today proved once and for all that a Sutton/Mehmet partnership is worse than useless.
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