London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2007-08--> All for 20080102
<-Page <-Team Wed 02 Jan 2008 Dundee United 4 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Guardian ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Stephen Frail <-auth Ewan Murray auth-> Alan Freeland
Zaliukas Marius Wallace Lee [B Robson 22] ;[B Robson pen 69] ;[N Hunt 84] ;[B Robson pen 87]
14 of 020 Christophe Berra 37 L SPL A

Robson hat-trick adds little joy to game no one wanted

Ewan Murray at Tannadice
Thursday January 3, 2008
The Guardian

There will be plenty of debate in the coming weeks over whether this match should have taken place. In the end it was Hearts, rather than Dundee United, who wished it had not been.

United, whose players watched first-hand on Saturday as the Motherwell captain Phil O'Donnell fell to a tragic death, asked for yesterday's game to be postponed. The request had more than a degree of justification given that the new-year Old Firm encounter was cancelled on the grounds that Celtic's players felt unable to take the field so soon after O'Donnell's death. Perhaps there was a little justice, therefore, that it was United who prevailed here, and in emphatic style, with Barry Robson, a player who shares the kind of flair that made O'Donnell so highly regarded, scoring three of their four goals. "No players wanted to play today," conceded Robson afterwards. "Three points don't mean much."

United's manager, Craig Levein, was of the same view, regardless of the victory. "We thought the game should have been off, that Saturday would be a better time to start playing, and that hasn't changed just because we won."

United were significantly aided in their efforts by Hearts, who ended the game with eight men. A day after the Edinburgh club announced they are finally to appoint a manager with experience of British football in place of a triumvirate coaching structure, several players demonstrated why what was once one of the plum jobs in British football now bears a likeness to leading an Everest expedition.

"Indiscipline is something that has been inherently wrong with this club for too long now," said Stephen Frail, the caretaker manager. A sense of injustice can often galvanise teams but too often recently Hearts have used such sentiments to disguise their failings. Third bottom of the table, and without a league win since November 11, beleaguered Hearts are giving their support a seriously testing time.

Alan Freeland, the referee, correctly awarded a United free-kick six yards from goal after hesitancy in the visiting defence, and in particular from Marius Zaliukas, culminated in Robbie Neilson lobbing the ball back to his goalkeeper, Steve Banks, who caught it. Lee Wilkie laid the resultant set piece into the path of Robson, who curled the ball home superbly.

Hearts were roused briefly before the interval, with Zaliukas heading on Michael Stewart's corner for Christophe Berra to prod in an equaliser at the back post. Zaliukas was soon the villain, however, lashing out at Wilkie inside Hearts' penalty area with the ball 30 yards away but, crucially, still in play. Freeland had little option but to send the Hearts man off and award a penalty. Robson dispatched the spot-kick, before curling a free-kick 14 minutes later on to the head of Noel Hunt, who headed past Banks from eight yards to seal victory.

Yet the controversy was far from over. Lee Wallace hauled down Robson 16 yards from goal. Wallace saw red and Robson again slammed in a penalty. Then Michael Stewart became embroiled in an ugly verbal exchange with one of his own supporters and received a second yellow card.

Taken from the Guardian/Observer

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