London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sun 25 Nov 2007 Gretna 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Anatoly Korobochka <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Mike Tumilty
Stewart Michael [Kingston Laryea og 48]
2 of 006 Laryea Kingston 26 L SPL A

New boys have hold on Hearts


Gretna 1 - 1 Hearts
NEWLY-PROMOTED clubs have heaped untold misery on Hearts for over four years, stretching back to Inverness' maiden season in the SPL. Gretna continued the sequence yesterday as Michael Stewart's ill-deserved dismissal ultimately hindered the visitors at Fir Park.

Being available to face Celtic this Saturday by dint of appeal will be scant consolation to Stewart, just as taking a point instead of three against Gretna offered Hearts little comfort last night.

The midfielder's red card for a fairly innocuous grapple with home defender Danny Grainger served to infuriate all connected with Tynecastle and a formal appeal will this week wind its way to the SPL's Hampden doormat.

That will free Stewart for this weekend's vital visit of Celtic but what it won't do is allow Hearts to unburden themselves of a distressing recent record against newly-promoted teams. Four points from nine against Inverness in season 2004/05 was improved upon a year later with seven from nine against Falkirk.

However last season saw just two points garnered in total from St Mirren and, with two 1-1 draws against Gretna thus far, this campaign isn't proving any more convincing.

On yesterday's evidence alone, a point shouldn't be regarded as a disaster following the unsavoury departure of Stewart after just 20 minutes. Referee Mike Tumilty delivered the first of a catalogue of errors when he issued the midfielder with a red card, and the official's performance improved little as the afternoon progressed. It wasn't that he was anti-Hearts, as many suspected, he was more anti-competence.

Stewart over-ran the ball in midfield and effected a sliding challenge on the approaching Danny Grainger in an effort to keep possession. Stewart rose to his feet and attempted to haul his opponent clear to get at the ball. Arms flailed and there was little argument that the Hearts player had committed a foul, however, as Grainger began holding his head, Tumilty issued a straight red card.

What perhaps stuck in Hearts' throats most, and Stewart's in particular, was the defender's reaction. His face hadn't been touched, yet he clutched it for dear life in order to further incriminate a fellow professional. The thought crossed the mind that any Hearts player doing likewise would have been publicly pilloried for weeks on end.

Stewart took out his frustration on a Gretna club crest in the tunnel, for which he can expect SFA recriminations regardless of any appeal outcome.

"He has flung his arms out and caught me," was Grainger's reaction to the incident. "The referee was close enough to see it and if he feels it was a red card he gives the red card. It was his choice. I don't know [if it was intentional], only Michael Stewart will tell you that.

"It's football, people get frustrated. You get tangled up in legs and people start thinking it's on purpose. Things get said and things happen. The referee dealt with it the way he thought he should have. It got sorted and the red card was shown."

Larry Kingston managed to score for both sides, firstly an expertly converted goal from the edge of the Gretna penalty area to give Hearts a 1-0 half-time lead. The Ghanaian stumbled upon his own portion of misfortune shortly after the interval when he could only deflect Evan Horwood's driven cross past Anthony Basso, who began the match in place of Steve Banks in the Hearts goal.

A second-half melee involving a handful of players ought to have produced more red cards but Tumilty decided to abandon the fussy approach favoured in the first half. Audrius Ksanavicius, Hearts' Lithuanian forward, was seen grabbing Gretna's James Grady by the throat and was fortunate to escape with a booking alongside Grady.

The former Dundee striker could easily have been dismissed for a second caution when he cynically impeded Eggert Jonsson late in the game but, again, Tumilty opted for the safe option and simply awarded a free-kick. The reactions from both camps epitomised the contrasting emotions a referee's performance can generate, with David Irons bizarrely labelling Tumilty a "breath of fresh air".

"There perhaps could have been [more red cards] but credit to the referee from Gretna's point of view," said the manager. "I'm not saying he was biased at all but I thought he handled the situations with common sense and a real good attitude towards the game. I'm not saying we haven't had that all season but it's a breath of fresh air."

Stephen Frail would have seen things differently but had the common sense to withhold his opinions. "I can't sit and comment on what happened with Michael because I haven't seen the footage of it," he said. "If it's anything against Michael then we'll lodge an appeal. He said he didn't feel there was a lot in it.

"I think his arm came round and he touched the lad in the stomach/chest area. If Michael had kept the ball under control then we were putting them under pressure so I was looking elsewhere when the whole thing kicked off. Someone said the Gretna player put his hand to his face. I thought I saw him do that. If the lad felt he'd been touched in the face, then fine.

"The referee knows the decisions and why he's made them. I'd be foolish to sit here and slaughter him. Once we've seen it, if we think there's grounds for appeal then we'll definitely look at it."

The numerical disadvantage impinged upon Hearts' hopes of securing victory in Lanarkshire. The visitors had enjoyed a fine opening period and looked to have the game under control but Gretna maintained sound ball retention in the second half without fashioning clear chances. "Regardless of who you're playing against, even though it's a team at the bottom of the league, you're playing with ten men," continued Frail.

"Although we scored the goal after Michael was sent off, and controlled the first half, Gretna put us under more pressure and we went to sleep at the corner-kick for their goal. That was a disappointing way to lose a goal."

Irons went on: "The biggest thing that pleased me was the attitude and commitment of our players. I'm going to be biased and say we deserved three points. We've not won many points this season but this point could be a turning point for us this season. You've seen it so many times, a team loses a man and then up their game. Sometimes you don't realise they have ten men. But, after Hearts scored, we dominated. We perhaps haven't quite got the killer instinct we need but credit to every single one of our players. That's three times we've played Hearts and they've still to beat us."

Irons was being slightly economical with the truth in that last sentence, for these clubs first met in the 2006 Scottish Cup final which Hearts won on penalties following a 1-1 draw. However, dropping points to newly-promoted sides is an unfortunate habit that the Edinburgh side must rid themselves of.

Taken from the Scotsman

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