London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2007-08--> All for 20071222
<-Page <-Team Sat 22 Dec 2007 Hearts 2 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Anatoly Korobochka <-auth Richard Winton auth-> William Collum
Kurskis Eduardas [R Duncan 22] ;[J Rankin pen 52] ;[G Bayne 93]
6 of 010 Christophe Berra 62 ;Andrius Velicka pen 89 L SPL H

Hearts 2 - 3 Inverness CT

RICHARD WINTON December 24 2007

Somewhere in the region of 20,000 of his compatriots voted Vladmir Romanov the winner of Lithuanian Strictly Come Dancing on Saturday. But the 16,000 Hearts fans inside Tynecastle were not impressed by his merry dance.

While perhaps not the day that the supporters rejected the yoke of the club's omnipotent owner, it appeared a seminal afternoon in the turbulent relationship. "Are you watching Romanov," demanded the irate denizens as Inverness established a two-goal advantage in the early part of the second half. If the answer was unclear, the sentiment was obvious.

The Gorgie arena can be intimidating for visitors but the raucous atmosphere can be a hindrance.

With the crowd restless after one win in nine games, a good start was imperative. However, Michael Fraser, the Inverness custodian, denied both Kestutis Ivaskevicius and Andrius Velicka in the early stages and Audruis Ksanavicius scudded a shot against the underside of the bar. Minutes later, Russell Duncan rippled the rigging for the visitors and the bile began to cascade from the stands.

"I'm not going to give anything back to the fans - they deserve more," said Steve Frail, the distraught assistant head coach in the aftermath. "We need to stand up and be bigger, especially at Tynecastle. Teams are coming here now, smelling blood and jumping on it.

"They have to be stronger and bigger if we want to be successful. When the crowd are demanding, you have to stand up to it and give them more.

I think that's a major factor and it spirals down. Some guys might not look for the ball, some might pass rather than shoot, they get under pressure and tense up and the whole thing escalates. I thought the young lads did well but there's one or two that will hide and that's just human nature.

"But if you look at the game objectively, taking out all of the atmosphere, you would have seen a team who can play."

In contrast to Romanov, Frail is amassing a reservoir of goodwill to drown anything George Bailey might enjoy. He was honest enough to admit to his sympathetic interrogators that answers to their questions were scant, but bravely tried to address the issues during an uncomfortable few minutes.

Constrained enough by his enforced impotence, he held up his hands for one decision he did make - to withdraw first-half substitute Calum Elliot after a fruitless half hour. The youngster might have helped Christophe Berra's header over the line to make it 2-1 but, with the help of hindsight, the coach conceded the call could ruin the striker's confidence. Such thinking demonstrated Frail's deep-lying concern for the future of the club.

He mused that leaving kids in the side during tough times could damage them long-term, but given the haplessness of the more experienced players he has little choice.

In a starting XI containing five of the owner's countrymen, one stood out for the second consecutive week. Eduardas Kurskis perpetrated a horrific error to cost Hearts a point at Ibrox last week and the goalkeeper was just as conspicuous on Saturday.

The loud, collective intake of breath from the home fans as the first high ball looped above his head was an inauspicious start and, while blameless for the opener, his day deteriorated from there. Terrified to leave his line, he also allowed two second half efforts to elude his grasp - one squirmed under him and another spun over a shoulder.

Ironic cheers accompanied his every successful act and did not stop when he was bizarrely dismissed with three minutes remaining. Already booked for hauling down Marius Niculae to concede a penalty - John Rankin converted - his second yellow could have been an effort to escape the opprobrium. After shepherding a long ball across his goalline, Kurskis was nudged by Duncan. Seasons greetings were exchanged and the Lithuanian laid hands on his opponent. William Collum, as bemused as everyone else, brandished another booking and the goalkeeper trudged off with the home fans combining bellowing abuse with cheering his overdue departure.

With all three substitutions made, Lee Wallace, the left-back, was positioned between the sticks but he was still fastening his gloves when Hearts scored an equaliser. Velicka and Grant Munro tussled in the box, a soft second spot-kick was awarded and the Lithuanian converted.

With stoppage time underway, an unlikely point seemed safe. Yet Marius Zaliukas made a mess of dealing with Barry Wilson's cross, allowing sub Graham Bayne to plant past Wallace and record a fifth win on the bounce.

"We responded well because everyone is working together," insisted Richard Hastings, the Inverness defender, illustrating the contrast. "It's different at Hearts with all the changes.

"We always have a core but I think it will be difficult to get that here. We knew if we got ahead the crowd could turn and, not to sound nasty to the keeper, he made a mistake last week and we had to test their weaknesses."

Taken from the Herald

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