London Hearts Supporters Club

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Stephen Frail <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Charlie Richmond
3 of 015 ----- L SPL H

Frail's men frustrated by Falkirk

HEARTS suffered a damaging blow to their top-six aspirations as Falkirk prised a deserved point from Tynecastle to remain on course for their first finish in the upper half of the SPL.
In an unremarkable match at Tynecastle, both sides cancelled one another out with clear chances almost non-existent. The result sees John Hughes side remain in sixth place, three points clear of Hearts with two matches remaining before the league split.

The hosts would have enjoyed a faultless performance from the Spanish midfielder Ruben Palazuelos but his probing was not sufficient to penetrate a resilient five-man Falkirk rearguard. Even the talismanic Larry Kingston, returning from injury, toiled to fashion an opening.

Patrick Cregg and Kevin McBride largely controlled proceedings in midfield for Falkirk and helped subdue any forward movement from Hearts, leaving Gorgie enveloped by a thick air of frustration come full-time.

Kingston's reinstatement was the most intriguing of Stephen Frail's four changes from last week's draw at Love Street. Although far from match fit, the Ghanaian appearanced for the first time since December last year having overcome a foot injury and assumed an advanced role in support of striker Calum Elliot. Marius Zaliukas deputised for Christos Karipidis because of the Greek's back injury whilst Michael Stewart and Deividas Cesnauskis returned to a midfield instructed by Frail to play with a predominantly attacking thesis.

Elliot had the first chance following a loose pass from Kenny Milne, however his left-footed effort was blocked by the sliding Darren Barr. Falkirk's five-man defence was intented to deny Hearts space on the flanks but another opening presented itself through the centre on 15 minutes which left home supporters questioning referee Charlie Richmond's judgment. Saulius Mikoliunas scampered on to a through ball and unleashed a first-time shot which appeared to strike the onrushing Robert Olejnik, Falkirk's goalkeeper, on the upper arm. Although the incident took place five yards outside the penalty box, Richmond remained impassive.

Seconds later Frail replaced Cesnauskis with Audrius Ksanavicius after the former's foot injury resurfaced. The subsequent reorganisation involved Kingston retreating to midfield and Ksanavicius sitting in the hole behind Elliot, however perhaps more concerning to Hearts was Zaliukas' wayward passing from defence. Three times he ceded possession under no pressure which had an unsettling effect on those around him.

Falkirk broke from defence on 30 minutes after the influential Cregg dispossessed Kingston, but Graham Barrett's shot was collected comfortably by Steve Banks. Hearts fans complained again when Richmond denied Mikoliunas a blatant free-kick seven minutes from the interval. The Lithuanian played a neat interchange with Elliot but was barged off the ball by Barr 20 yards from Olejnik's goal. Neither the referee nor his assistants deemed the challenge worthy of a foul, as was the case in the 44th minute when Cregg's over-the-ball tackle on Robbie Neilson also went unpunished.

The second half was no less turgid an affair than the first with both sides lacking creativity and panache in attack. The situation, for Hearts at least, was becoming increasingly desperate with each passing minute
as they sought victory to aid prospects of a top-six finish. Jamie Mole replaced Elliot and Falkirk introduced both Pedro Moutinho and Arnau Riera, but in the end it was the travelling support which left the stadium singing.

They knew, as did their Edinuburgh counterparts, that a point is of little use to Hearts.

Hearts (4-4-1-1): Banks; Neilson, Zaliukas, Berra, Wallace; Mikoliunas, Stewart, Palazuelos, Cesnauskis; Kingston; Elliot. Subs: Basso, Tall, Thomson, Jonsson, Ksanavicius 15 (for Cesnauskis), Screpis 90 (for Kingston), Mole 68 (for Elliot).

Falkirk (5-4-1): Olejnik, Ross, Aafjes, Barr, Milne, Scobbie; Arfield, Cregg, McBride, Finnigan; Barrett. Subs: Supple, Moutinho 72 (for Finnigan), Latapy, Clarke, Riera 81 (for McBride), Mitchell, Moffat.

Attendance: 16,682.

Referee: Charlie Richmond.

Taken from the Scotsman

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