London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2007-08--> All for 20071125
<-Page <-Team Sun 25 Nov 2007 Gretna 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Anatoly Korobochka <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Mike Tumilty
Stewart Michael [Kingston Laryea og 48]
1 of 006 Laryea Kingston 26 L SPL A

Ten-man Hearts rise and fall in line with Kingston


HEARTS must wish their league matches against Gretna could go to penalty shoot-outs. They have only played three times against the SPL newcomers, and on each occasion the result has been 1-1, the only decisive outcome having come from the spot in the 2006 Scottish Cup final.

The Edinburgh club's hopes of taking all three points here yesterday were hindered by the harsh sending-off of Michael Stewart midway through the first half. They recovered from that blow to take the lead through Laryea Kingston shortly thereafter, but were on the back foot for long stretches of the second half after Kingston had cancelled out his own earlier effort.

As they bid to close in on third place, this has to go down as a missed opportunity. With Dundee United and Hibernian having drawn on Saturday, three points in this game would have taken Hearts to within five points of those two clubs. Instead, they are now seven behind, with a difficult home game against league leaders Celtic to come.

Gretna, for their part, are seven behind Falkirk at the bottom. Two out of their five points have come against Hearts, but if they are to have a chance of escaping the drop they will have to make the most of games such as this, and learn the knack of turning one point into three.

It was a bright, enterprising game. Hearts had slightly the better of the opening stages, and had the first scoring chance in a goalmouth scramble which ended when Christian Nade had his shot blocked just short of the line. The pattern of play changed, however, after 20 minutes, when the visitors went down to ten men.

The incident began when Stewart lost possession in midfield then got into a tangle with Danny Grainger. Stewart raised his arms, Grainger reacted by holding his head in his hands, and referee Mike Tumilty had no hesitation in showing the Hearts player a red card. The offence looked to be one to which both players had contributed, and only by a strict interpretation of the law did Stewart's raising of hands seem a dismissable offence.

Hearts did not let their heads go down, though, and it was not long before they were in the lead. The move began when Andy Driver took on Ryan McGuffie down the left, and after initially being halted managed to cut inside and leave his marker for dead. The winger's cutback found Kingston, and while the Gretna defence waited to see if he would slide a diagonal pass out to Robbie Neilson on the right, Kingston took aim, and found the net with a subtle curling effort from the edge of the box.

Hearts came close to going two ahead a few minutes before half time when they were awarded a free kick down the left. Kingston's outswinger into the box was headed on towards the back post by Marius Zaliukas, but Christophe Berra mistimed his run slightly and just failed to make contact from a couple of yards out.

Gretna were by no means out of it, and their best chance of equalising in the first half came with the last play before Tumilty called a halt. Fabian Yantorno's header from the left was headed back across goal by McGuffie, where James Grady was waiting unmarked. The striker would have scored if he had managed to make a clean contact, but the speed of the header caught him off balance and he barely nicked the ball on its way past the post. Two minutes into the second half, Yantorno himself came close to beating Hearts goalkeeper Anthony Basso, but the Frenchman just got a hand to the ball and turned it round his post. The visiting defence had not got back into position when Yantorno himself took the corner. After a quick exchange of passes he drove the ball into the goalmouth, and in attempting to clear the danger Kingston steered it off his thigh into his own net.

Both teams made their first changes just before the hour, with Hearts bringing on Andrius Velicka for Nade, and Gretna substituting McGuffie with David Graham. Velicka came close to scoring, albeit unwittingly, a minute later, when a long-range shot by Eggert Jonsson deflected off him, and went just wide of Fleming's left-hand post. The contest was heating up and speeding up by this time. With Gretna making good use of their numerical advantage, and Hearts becoming more dangerous on the counter-attack through Driver, the outcome was in the balance.

It would have tipped firmly in Gretna's favour, however, if Tumilty had acted consistently and red-carded Audrius Ksanavicius for an offence similar to Stewart's. Tussling with Yantorno down the left, the Lithuanian reacted angrily to losing possession and raised his hands to his opponent. Yantorno emulated Grainger and made the most of the contact, falling over to ensure the officials knew there had been contact.

Correctly in this instance, however, the referee decided the altercation was not serious enough for a red card. Instead, he booked Ksanavicius, as well as Marius Zaliukas, Jose Goncalves and Grady for the part they had played in a pushing-cum-slanging match after the whistle had blown.

Jonsson and Aurelien Collin had already been booked in the second half, and Chris Innes followed shortly after the Ksanavicius incident, while Yantorno and Christophe Berra had been yellow-carded before the break. It was not a hugely indisciplined match, though, and the number of bookings was more an indication of how keenly both sides were striving to gain the upper hand.

Gretna were on top for most of the second half, but in the closing ten minutes Hearts created several chances. Velicka and Driver shot over the bar, Greg Fleming saved from a Kingston free kick, Driver drove across the face of goal, and then finally Ksanavicius saw a shot blocked.

While Hearts rued those chances, Gretna will have been left regretting the missed opportunity to record only their second league win of the season. A draw may have been a fair result, but it was one of little consolation to either team.

Frail considers appeal for Stewart

HEARTS are expected to appeal against the sending-off of Michael Stewart during the first half of their 1-1 draw with Gretna yesterday. The midfielder was shown a straight red card by referee Mike Tumilty after a clash with Gretna's Danny Grainger, and will be ruled out of his team's next match at home to Celtic unless an appeal is made against the decision.

The Tynecastle club will review the incident before finalising their decision, but the consensus was that the sending-off was harsh. "I've not seen it myself," said Stephen Frail, Hearts' assistant manager. "Michael said he didn't think there was a lot in it, or enough in it. If we think there are grounds for appeal we will definitely consider it."

Grainger appeared to make the most of the contact with Stewart in what began as a tangle of limbs after the Hearts player had lost possession. Afterwards, though, the Gretna man declined to accuse Stewart of any specific violent action, saying he preferred to defer to Tumilty's authority in the matter.

"He's flung his arm out and caught me," Grainger said. "The referee was close enough to see it, and he has dealt with it in the way he thought he should."

The case involving Stewart is expected to become more complicated, as he has apparently been reported by Tumilty for an action expressing his dissent in the aftermath of the sending-off. Stewart and Hearts' operations director Campbell Ogilvie were summoned to the officials' room at half time to be told of the additional disciplinary action, which arose after the player was said to have kicked an object against the wall of the tunnel.

Looking back at the game, Frail highlighted one costly moment where his defence suffered a lapse of concentration. "Although we went and scored after Michael was sent off, they put us under pressure in the second half. We went to sleep at their goal," he said. "I don't think [Hearts goalkeeper Anthony] Basso had many saves to make, and we could have sneaked it at the end with the three or four chances we had."

Davie Irons, the Gretna manager, said he thought his team - who have still won only one league match so far this season - had deserved to take all three points from the game. "I'm never happy with one point," he said. "Perhaps that should go down as a missed opportunity, because of Michael Stewart's sending-off.

"From the minute Hearts scored I think we dominated. We talked a lot during the week about self-belief and commitment, and my players showed that today."

Taken from the Scotsman

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