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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]
3 of 006 Laryea Kingston 26 L SPL A

Own goal ensures Hearts draw to a resilient Gretna


Gretna 1
Kingston (49 og)

Hearts 1
Kingston (26)

A GAME in which Hearts began clear favourites, however Gretna's resilience and the first-half dismissal of Michael Stewart ensured the visitors were held to a spirited draw at Fir Park.

Larry Kingston found the net at both ends of Gretna's temporary home, the opener a scintillating strike for Hearts before he inadvertently deflected a cross past Anthony Basso at the back post to facilitate Gretna's equaliser.

For all that David Irons' side were plucky and passed the ball confidently, the nagging feeling amongst visiting supporters as they left Lanarkshire was that their side would have sampled the taste of victory had referee Mike Tumilty not ordered Stewart from the field for a fairly innocuous offence on 20 minutes.
Michael Stewart questions the referee having been shown the red card. Picture: SNS Group Steve Welsh

Michael Stewart questions the referee having been shown the red card. Picture: SNS Group Steve Welsh

Stewart appeared to use his arm in a tussle with Gretna's Danny Grainger but as the defender held his face the Scotland midfielder had every right to feel infuriated at being issued a red card. His side then faced an awkward task with one player less but performed commendably and came close to securing all three points on several occasions.

Hearts rotated their goalkeepers once again for this one, fuelling suspicion that the outgoing Steve Banks was only reinstated against Aberdeen two weeks ago because Vladimir Romanov preferred not to risk a calamity from Anthony Basso whilst in attendance at Tynecastle.

The Frenchman returned at Fir Park alongside Marius Zaliukas and Kingston, who replaced Ibrahim Tall and Andrius Velicka in the starting line-up.

Amid rumblings of behind-the-scenes discontent involving director of football Mick Wadsworth, Gretna began conservatively despite being hosts. Hearts fashioned an opening from Andy Driver's corner but two Zaliukas shots allied to a Christian Nade effort were smothered by the home defence.

Midfielder Paul Murray guided Ryan McGuffie's right-sided cross wide on nine minutes from a favourable position inside Basso's penalty area. Gretna gradually began to assert themselves through their ability to find space amongst some frenetic midfield contests, however Hearts were arguably moving the ball forward quicker through the impressive Kingston and Andy Driver.

A hitherto fairly sombre afternoon transformed when referee Tumilty reduced Hearts to ten men. Stewart, having marginally over run the ball in midfield, slid into Grainger and then became embroiled in a tussle with the defender. Grainger appeared to stand in front of Stewart as he strove to rise to his feet and retrieve possession. For attempting to haul his opponent out the way, Stewart was instantly dismissed as Grainger theatrically clutched his face.

The injustice served to inspire Hearts, who moved in front six minutes later. Driver completely annihilated Aurelien Collin with a repertoire of trickery on the byline and cut the ball back in search of an onrushing midfielder. Audrius Ksanavicius swung a leg at it but Kingston collected on the 18-yard line and patiently moved the ball onto his right foot before arcing a beautifully-executed finish high into the net.

The numerical advantage allowed Gretna to commanded the majority of possession thereafter and manager David Irons could only lament James Grady's profligacy in first-half stoppage time. McGuffie nodded a corner back across goal but, three yards out, Grady failed to connect with no marker in attendance and the ball bounced out of play.

Hearts deserved their interval advantage but Gretna retook the field in spirited fashion. Basso was required to dive full length to his right and touch Fabian Yantorno's shot wide. From the resultant corner, Chris Innes gathered possession and his driven cross produced the equaliser when it ricocheted into Basso's net off Larry Kingston's thigh.

Further controversy arrived shortly after the hour following Zaliukas' foul on Yantorno. Grady angrily confronted Ksanavicius whilst Jose Goncalves went head to head with Gretna's Murray. All three visiting players involved were cautioned for their conduct, but Gretna had only Grady's name taken. If Ksanavicius was fortunate not to see red having grabbed Grady near the neck, the home player could consider himself likewise when a reckless tackle on Eggert Jonsson was taken into account.
Stewart and Goncalves stop Yantorno early on in the match. Picture: SNS Group Jeff Holmes

Stewart and Goncalves stop Yantorno early on in the match. Picture: SNS Group Jeff Holmes

Basso then stopped a dangerous Yantorno effort but Hearts spent the closing stages in the ascendancy, shots from Driver, Kingston and substitute Andrius Velicka all drifting over or wide of Greg Fleming's goal frame.

In the end a point couldn't be considered a disgrace in the circumstances, but the Tynecastle hierarchy will be perfectly entitled to question the justification for Stewart's red card.

Gretna (3-4-1-2): Fleming; Collin, Innes, Grainger; McGuffie, Murray, Skelton, Horwood; Yantorno; Grady, Makinwa. Subs: Caig, Jenkins 90 (for Murray), Buscher 86 (for Grady), Graham 59 (for McGuffie), Cowan, Paartalu, Deverdics.

Hearts (4-4-1-1): Basso; Neilson, Zaliukas, Berra, Goncalves; Kingston, Jonsson, Stewart, Driver; Ksanavicius; Nade. Subs: Banks, Wallace, McGowan, Palazuelos 90 (for Jonsson), Ivaskevicius, Elliot, Velicka 59 (for Nade).

Attendance: 1544.

Referee: Mike Tumilty.

Taken from the Scotsman

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