London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2008-09--> All for 20080816
<-Page <-Team Sat 16 Aug 2008 Rangers 2 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Darryl Broadfoot auth-> Stuart Dougal
Mikoliunas Saulius [K Lafferty 37] ;[K Boyd pen 91]
16 of 023 ----- L SPL A

Rangers 2 - 0 Hearts

DARRYL BROADFOOT, Chief Football Writer August 18 2008

Stage management pre-empted any intended protests over the unpalatable sale of Carlos Cuellar. A gathering of disgruntled Rangers supporters outside front steps at Ibrox hastily abandoned their public show of discontent as a sponsored car pulled up at the main door containing Sandy Jardine and, more pertinently, Maurice Edu, the club's latest signing from Toronto FC.

Inside, Pedro Mendes wasted no time addressing the entertainment deficit that has been as rich a source of aggravation as the £8m transfer of Cuellar to Aston Villa. A turbulent and traumatic week for a club already bounced out of the Champions League ended with a win courtesy of a scarcely seen brand of creativity.

Mendes was a sight for sore eyes and a tonic for Bears with sore heads. The Portuguese midfielder injected impetus into an ailing midfield. He was crafty and strategic in his passing, instant in his control and decision making and almost entirely forward thinking. Having become accustomed to an agricultural midfield during Walter Smith's 18-month restoration period, the sight of Mendes strutting around like a bantam cock was manna from heaven for a crowd who had crammed the airwaves and the internet ether with doom-laded prophecies.

The addition of Edu, a holding midfielder with a sprinter's pedigree, Aaron, a prodigious Spanish teenager, plus the return of Steven Davis will revitalise Rangers' lumbering midfield. A new problem presents itself, a conundrum at least borne of preference. Rangers have an abundance of striking options and a complexity of permutations. On Saturday, Kris Boyd made his second successive start beside Andrius Velicka but theirs was not a natural relationship.

The increased productivity in their midst served only to highlight their limitations. Boyd reaffirmed the breadth of his talent: goals. Rangers' No.9 is unfathomable. He runs with the gait of a man twice his age, appears unable to spring from his heels and despite his liberal dimensions, does not possess the core strength to hold off prohibitive defenders. It is no exaggeration to suggest he offered nothing but Rangers' second goal, which was a telling contribution in itself.

Velicka could not find the net and his laudable attempts to fetch possession served only to expose his lack of pace. Smith has now tried the mobile pair of Jean-Claude Darcheville and Kenny Miller and the penalty-box punch of Velicka and Boyd. The most profitable combination is likely to be a poacher and a runner.

Hearts, under the demonstrative Csaba Laszlo, were unable to engage their young striker, Jamie Mole, throughout an uninspired performance. Jamie McDonald was an unexpected starter after the decision to commit Steve Banks to full-time coaching duties but the young goalkeeper performed confidently and with conviction. The same could not be said of Hearts' outfield assets.

Michael Stewart, a stand-out last week, was overshadowed by Mendes and became increasingly frustrated. Rangers' forcefulness in the middle of the park ensured Christos Karipidis, in the holding midfield role, was the visitors' most industrious player.

Larea Kingston began brightly but faded, while Saulius Mikoliunas reaffirmed his status as Scottish football's most irritating import. The Lithuanian replaced Kingston in 65 minutes, was booked for diving by Stuart Dougal in 67 and dismissed in 73 after a needless chop at Miller. Laszlo, aware of Hearts' history of perceived persecution and paranoia, maintained a creditable diplomacy. "When you are booked you have to be less aggressive and more careful," Laszlo said. "He will learn from this."

For the second time in recent months, Kevin Thomson was booked by Dougal for backchat. There is evidently a mutual contempt between the two and after Thomson shoved the referee out the way to chase the ball, Dougal got his own back. He made a bee-line for Thomson, blew his whistle and as the player's heart skipped a beat, signalled the end of the first half.

By then, Rangers had taken a lead that was deserved but not expected. Kyle Lafferty converted his first goal since his £3.4m transfer but only moments earlier caused chaos in the home dug-out. He strained a muscle and seemed unable to continue. As Miller peeled off his tracksuit, Lafferty had second thoughts and hurriedly re-entered the field. Mendes' poor free-kick found Madjid Bougherra and his cut-back was left by Lee McCulloch and curled past McDonald by Lafferty, who forgot his pain in a moment of athletic celebration.

Hearts were denied a penalty when Andrew Driver's meaty shot stung Bougherra's hands and their sense of injustice was compounded when Lee Wallace tripped Miller at the other end. Boyd dispatched the spot-kick but this was the day when Mendes unwittingly mended bridges between the club and its support.

Taken from the Herald

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