London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Sunday Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stewart Fisher auth-> Iain Brines
[D Clarkson 33] ;[D Clarkson 80]
27 of 029 Michael Stewart 25 ;Audrius Ksanavicius 40 ;Saulius Mikoliunas 81 L SPL H

Laszlo lays down new standards

Hearts 3 - 2 Motherwell

Stewart Fisher at Tynecastle

CSABA LASZLO strode onto the Tynecastle turf at the final whistle yesterday, but if substitute Juho Makela was expecting a warm embrace from his new manager on the occasion of him securing his maiden SPL victory, he was wrong. Instead the Finn was publicly berated and given a semi-playful cuff round the ear for being clumsy in possession in the lead-up to Motherwell's equalising goal then being overly casual when his side had a quick break late on in the match. If the first glimpse of the Laszlo era is anything go by, Hearts players and fans alike should be in for an entertaining season.

The Romanian may only have been Vladimir Romanov's fourth or fifth choice for the job, but he has wasted little time in making an impression. He cut a hyperactive figure in the dugout as his Hearts side were twice pegged back by Motherwell, only for a stunning late strike from Saulius Mikoliunas to give them a deserved victory over the third best team in Scotland last year, and there was little sign of him slowing down in the press conference afterwards.

It was important, he said, for the club not to get carried away, although a place in the "best six" was achievable this season. Makela, he said, had deserved his dressing down, because he was the "fresh guy", and although mistakes were forgivable, not getting back behind the ball certainly wasn't. Laryea Kingston had been withdrawn with a quarter of an hour to go, because in "the last five minutes he had lost his discipline", with Laszlo adding that if Kingston "could do a little more he would be an absolute star".

Laszlo then embellished his workaholic and insomniac reputation by admitting he had been at Riccarton till 9pm on Friday studying tapes of Motherwell. "I can't change me," he said. "I am 44 and I will die like this."

Had things gone differently, of course, this could well have been Mark McGhee's first competitive game as Hearts manager - he declined Vladimir Romanov's offer to take over at the club at the start of pre-season. If the bragging rights were not lost on the visiting fans, who literally embroidered the tale in the fashion of Amy Winehouse ("They tried to make McGhee a Jambo. He said No No No", a banner read), they had been squandered by the end. "Are you watching Mark McGhee," the home fans sung.

What McGhee was watching was the same pretty Motherwell performance from middle to front witnessed last season, but unfortunately with the same defensive foibles. It was not the only echo of the previous campaign. It took Bob Malcolm just six minutes to acquire his first booking of the season, scything down Andy Driver as the youngster hared down the left flank. And only nine minutes for Stephen Craigan to play up to his stereotype, getting caught in possession in a dangerous area, Audrius Ksanavicius running through to be thwarted by Graeme Smith's save before his blushes were spared by a charitable whistle from referee Iain Brines.

A couple of minutes later we had our first Lithuanian diving row of the season, as Ksanavicius made the most of Craigan's lunge only to be booked for simulation.

Hearts rode their luck when Steve Banks was at best borderline for handling outside his box, but the use of Christos Karipidis as a screen in front of their defence, permitted Laryea Kingston, Michael Stewart and Andrew Driver to flood forward. With 25 minutes on the clock, Stewart timed one such burst to converge on Driver's first time pass, and he kept his poise magnificently to sweep Hearts into the lead.

Only an outstretched palm from Smith and the crossbar prevented a deflected Driver shot from then doubling the advantage. Instead the next goal arrived at the other end. A quick Steven Hammell throw allowed Stephen Hughes the freedom of the bye-line, and his cut-back located Clarkson, who could hardly miss.

Just when it seemed Motherwell were growing into the game, however, Hearts were back in front. This time it was Mark Reynolds who misjudged a header and Ksanavicius who pilfered the ball and bravely prodded it under the onrushing Smith, taking a hefty old boot from the goalkeeper in the process. The last act of an entertaining half was an inspired volley from Clarkson which dropped the wrong side of the post by a matter of inches.

The second half began with Hearts threatening to make the game safe, but Motherwell stuck to their task and were rewarded nine minutes from time. Makela surrendered possession to new Motherwell signing Jim O'Brien, and Clarkson found a yard to drill in a low deflected volley which located Banks's bottom corner.

The celebrations in front of the visiting support were sweet, but they didn't last long. Within 60 seconds, Stewart's pass and Saulius Mikolunas's run from deep sprung the offside trap, and the Lithuanian lashed a fine shot from the angle of the penalty box high into the net. Whatever else they will be this season, Laszlo's Hearts should definitely be worth watching.

Hearts substitutions: Cesnauskis for Driver 68, Makela for Ksanavicius 72, Mikoliunas for Kingston 76. Not used: MacDonald, Nade, Jonsson, Rapnik. Booked: Ksanavicius 13, Stewart 34. Motherwell substitutions: Fitzpatrick for Malcolm 53, D Smith for 74, O'Brien for Lasley 78. Not used: Neilson, Murphy, Connolly, Slane. Booked: Malcolm 6, Lasley 34.

Referee: I Brines Att: 14,219

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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