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<-Page <-Team Sat 22 Mar 2008 Hearts 0 Falkirk 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sporting Life ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Stephen Frail <-auth Gavin Mccafferty auth-> Charlie Richmond
15 of 015 ----- L SPL H

Hearts 0 Falkirk 0

By Gavin McCafferty, PA Sport

Falkirk frustrated Hearts at Tynecastle to leave them favourites to make the top six of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Only two slack passes in the opening stages allowed Hearts any chances and the Falkirk defence atoned before the visitors created several first-half openings.

Hearts enjoyed more territory and possession in the second period but had no cutting edge as the Bairns comfortably kept their three-point advantage over both Hearts and Aberdeen.

Hearts were handed a pre-match boost when Laryea Kingston made his first appearance since December 1.

The Ghana midfielder went straight into the starting line-up after recovering from a foot problem suffered at the African Nations Cup.

But, despite some decent touches, even he could not unlock the Falkirk defence. Hearts also brought in Marius Zaliukas, Deividas Cesnauskis and Michael Stewart while fit-again Jack Ross replaced Pedro Moutinho for Falkirk.

Falkirk easily contained Hearts for 10 minutes until a woefully slack pass by Kenny Milne gave Calum Elliot the chance to run at goal, but Darren Barr slid in to block his shot.

Scott Arfield threaded a perfect pass through for Graham Barrett at the other end but a marginal offside decision was awarded to the relief of Lee Wallace, who had hauled the Falkirk striker to the ground.

Another slack pass in Falkirk's own half allowed Saulius Mikoliunas a chance but Bairns keeper Robert Olejnik rushed out of his box to block with his chest.

Falkirk were growing in confidence on the ball and Hearts suffered a blow when Cesnauskis was replaced by Audrius Ksanavicius in the 15th minute.

Arfield shot just over from 20 yards before Barrett shot straight at Steve Banks in a Falkirk counter attack which began when Patrick Cregg dispossessed Kingston.

The Bairns maintained their pressure without carving out a gilt-edged chance. Thomas Scobbie headed over from a floating cross by Ross before turning provider with an inswinging free-kick that Gerard Aafjes headed over from 10 yards.

Hearts enjoyed the territorial advantage in the latter stages of the half but Barr produced another crucial block from a Ksanavicius volley before Stewart screwed a 20-yard shot wide.

Christophe Berra then headed harmlessly over from a deep Kingston corner.

Hearts could not raise the tempo after the break and when Elliot worked a yard of space inside the box, his shot went out for a throw.

Milne had a decent chance on the hour mark after Cregg teed him up on the edge of the box but he shot a yard over.

Olejnik momentarily lost a Robbie Neilson cross but that was a rare concern for the Falkirk keeper as Hearts were devoid of a cutting edge despite pushing Falkirk back.

Jamie Mole replaced Elliot, who had little success as a lone central striker, but still Hearts could not improve in the final third.

Arfield did not get hold of a shot in a crowded box and Scobbie was booked for tripping Kingston after Banks had launched a counter attack.

Teenager Arfield then almost played Barrett through, but the ball just ran through to Banks, as Falkirk began to find more room going forward.

The Bairns were so comfortable that Ross and manager John Hughes could afford to share a joke on the sidelines as Arnau Riera replaced Kevin McBride.

Scobbie mis-kicked another half-chance inside the box but the Falkirk camp were still smiling when the final whistle blew to leave them in sixth place.

They can virtually ensure their first top-six finish next week if they beat Kilmarnock at home.


Hearts Banks, Neilson, Berra, Zaliukas, Wallace, Mikoliunas,Stewart, Palazuelos, Cesnauskis (Ksanavicius 15),Kingston (Screpis 90), Elliot (Mole 68).

Subs Not Used: Basso, Tall, Thomson, Jonsson.

Booked: Zaliukas.

Falkirk Olejnik, Ross, Barr, Milne, Scobbie,McBride (Riera 81), Aafjes, Cregg, Arfield,Finnigan (Moutinho 72), Barrett.

Subs Not Used: Supple, Clarke, Latapy, Mitchell, Moffat.

Booked: Aafjes, Scobbie.

Att: 16,682

Ref: Charlie Richmond (Scotland).

Taken from

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