London Hearts Supporters Club

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Anatoly Korobochka <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Craig Thomson
Elliot Calum [J Robertson 13] ;[J Robertson 23] ;[B Robson pen 89] Gregorz Szamotulski
7 of 011 Laryea Kingston 92 L SPL H

Levein shows Hearts what they're missing


HEARTS 1 Kingston 90
DUNDEE UTD 3 Robertson, 14, 25, Robson 87

CRAIG Levein had a respectable record of results at Tynecastle while he was manager of Hearts, winning more than half his home matches. It was hardly predictable that he would improve on those statistics at the Edinburgh ground after taking over at Dundee United, but that is exactly what has happened so far.
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This win was nowhere near as convincing as the 4-0 victory enjoyed by United back in March in Levein's only other match at Hearts since taking over at Tannadice, but it was deserved all the same.

What is more, it was achieved by the very methods used by Levein to gain success at his old club: hard work, tight discipline and not a little skill.

There may have been an element of good fortune in the way in which United took the lead and then doubled it against the run of play, but they adapted more intelligently to the altered circumstances than Hearts did, and had constricted the life out of the game some time before the end.

The home side began in determined fashion, attacking in speed and in numbers, only to go behind when Jordan Robertson latched on to a poor attempted clearance by Marius Zaliukas to turn and shoot into the far corner of the net. Hearts' response was more of the same, and then, ten minutes or so on from his first goal, the forward struck again, knocking the ball home from a few yards after Lee Wilkie had headed a Christian Kalvenes cross down into his path.

Given Hearts' greater share of possession it was understandable that they could not quite believe they were 2-0 down, but both goals were real enough, and the second goal if not the first should have provoked a rethink in tactics. Instead, they continued to batter away at United for the rest of the half to little avail.

Hearts were at least performing well out wide, where Andrew Driver and Laryea Kingston were causing problems for United's full-backs. They were getting less joy up front, where Calum Elliot again looked too slow, while Christian Nade is not yet up to full match sharpness.

A change to the strike force at half-time therefore seemed plausible, but when Audrius Ksanavicius emerged for the second half it was in place of Driver. Ksanaviciushas worked well when positioned just behind a target man, but he was not as fast as the man he replaced, and Hearts' attacks became more ponderous. United, by contrast, increased the speed of their game. Their five-man midfield steadily got the better of Hearts' quartet, with Morgaro Gomis and Prince Buaben being particularly impressive.

With half an hour to play, Mauricio Pinilla came on for his first game for Hearts in over a year, replacing Nade. The Chilean is gifted, but unsurprisingly was a couple of yards off the pace, and could do little to alter the flow of the game.

Kingston almost managed to do that with a shot 15 minutes from time which was just off target, but that was the end of Hearts' hopes. They might have stood more of a chance of mounting a late recovery if they had brought Ruben Palazuelos off the bench to give more bite to their midfield, but their final change, Kestutis Ivaskevicius for left-back Jose Goncalves, was inconsequential.

With time running out Steve Banks pulled off an exceptional save to keep out a powerful shot from Barry Robson, but moments later the United skipper did make it 3-0 by converting a penalty after Elliot handled on the line.

Elliot was sent off for the offence, and was soon followed by Grzegorsz Szamotulski. The United goalkeeper was given a second yellow for an aerial challenge on Pinilla, who was flat out for a while but was later said to have recovered well.

Ewan McLean took over in goal for United to defend the free-kick, but his only action of the match was to pick the ball out of the net after Kingston scored direct. The loss of that goal did no real damage to Levein's team, but the absence of Szamotulski may well do, as they already have several goalkeepers on the injury list.

Taken from the Scotsman

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