London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 02 Dec 2006 St Mirren 2 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Telegraph ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Roddy Forsyth auth-> Charlie Richmond
Hartley Paul [S Kean 19] ;[S Kean 22]
11 of 015 Saulius Mikoliunas 1 ;Marius Zaliukas 51 L SPL A

SFA take cautious approach to turmoil at Hearts

By Roddy Forsyth

The Scottish Football Association intend to keep their distance from the turmoil which is increasingly tearing Hearts apart — the Tynecastle captain, Steven Pressley, was ordered to stay away from the 2-2 draw at St Mirren on Saturday — though there have been informal discussions with the League Managers' Association about some of the practices of Vladimir Romanov, the club's owner.

The Scottish Professional Footballers' Association backed Pressley after he was barred from attending the game at Love Street, but their strength at Hearts is less than at other Scottish Premier League clubs because of the number of Lithuanians who are not members of the players' union.

The LMA in Scotland are also disturbed by the number of outstanding compensation claims against Hearts. George Burley, who was sacked when the club had a perfect league record 14 months ago, has yet to receive a pay-off, nor have Graham Rix or Jim Duffy, the management team who took over from Burley, seen any compensation. However, neither the Scottish Premier League nor the Scottish Football League stipulate that clubs must reach agreement with outgoing managers before they can appoint a successor. It is this loophole that the LMA want to see plugged. The SFA, though, are keeping a cautious eye on events at Hearts because, as one source put it: "There is a fair chance that we are going to end up as the final court of appeal."

Hearts have come unglued in the league during two months of disruption in which the first-team coach, Valdas Ivanauskas, returned to his native Lithuania suffering from stress, and they have slipped to sixth in the table, three points ahead of Falkirk.

The latest stumble came despite a perfect start, when Hearts took the lead through Saulius Mikoliunas inside 15 seconds on Saturday. Two simple goals in three minutes from Stewart Kean put St Mirren ahead midway through the first half, and although Hearts equalised after the break with a header from Marius Zaliukas — who was sent on after Kean's goals to shore up the visitors' defence — Paul Hartley's late dismissal guaranteed that the Tynecastle side would extend a winless run which stretches back to Oct 1.

Celtic, meanwhile, set themselves up for Wednesday's Champions League encounter with Copenhagen with a hard-won victory over Aberdeen, courtesy of a goal by Maciej Zurawski five minutes after he came on as a substitute midway though the second half.

Gordon Strachan's clairvoyant powers were praised by the Celtic centre back, Bobo Balde, who said: "We were patient and the manager told us before the game that we might get some chances after 60 minutes — the goal came in 71 minutes."

Zurawski's decisive strike marred an otherwise fine afternoon for Aberdeen's 19-year-old defender, Andrew Considine, who failed to intercept Lee Naylor's cross for the goal. "One real mistake costs you here," Considine said.

Elsewhere, Hibernian's good form under John Collins continued when they rallied after a Sheldon Martis own goal against Dundee United to win with a Rob Jones header and Steven Fletcher's late strike.

Kilmarnock thrashed Dunfermline 5-1 at Rugby Park with doubles from Colin Nish and Paul di Giacomo and Motherwell climbed to ninth place when Richie Foran's last-minute penalty saw off Inverness Caledonian Thistle.

Taken from

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