London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Wed 27 Aug 2008 Hearts 0 Airdrie United 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stephen Halliday auth-> Eddie Smith
----- Kevin Alan McDonald
3 of 010 ----- LC H
Hearts 0 - 0 Airdrie Utd (Airdrie Utd win 4-3 on penalties): Airdrie take another capital scalp
Stephen Halliday
THE name of Airdrie resurfaced to haunt Hearts again last night as Csaba Laszlo's hapless side were knocked out of the Co-operative Insurance Cup at the first hurdle in a mediocre second round tie decided by a dramatic penalty competition.
This was the first time Hearts had faced Airdrie United in a competitive fixture since the Lanarkshire club were reformed in 2002, but the sense of despair was familiar for their supporters who would recall the last meeting with Airdrieonians in the 1995 Scottish Cup semi-final which was also lost.

Goalkeeper Stephen Robertson was the match winner for Kenny Black's First Division side last night, who were reduced to 10 men in extra-time when Kevin McDonald was sent off, stopping penalties from Lee Wallace and David Obua. Simon Lynch, Marc Smyth, Mathew Hazley and Scott McLaughlin all converted for Airdrie with Darren Smith seeing his effort saved by Marian Kello. Christos Karipidis, Eggert Jonsson and Michael Stewart netted for Hearts, but in vain.

Airdrie fully merited taking the tie to the additional period where their resilience was severely tested by the 107th minute dismissal of McDonald for a foul on Christophe Berra, the midfielder having already been booked in regulation time for a challenge on Jonsson.

Robertson was the hero for the visitors as Hearts desperately looked to make their numerical advantage count, pulling off three outstanding saves to deny Deividas Cesnauskis twice and then Christian Nade to take the match to the shoot-out.

Despite international clearance for new Hungarian signing Janos Balogh having been received earlier in the day, Marian Kello retained his place in goal for Hearts.

Any suspicion of interference in team selection from club owner Vladimir Romanov, who presumably was preoccupied at home in Kaunas with his local team's Champions League qualifier last night, would be tempered by the fact there were only two changes to the line-up which had defeated St Mirren on Saturday.

Jonsson, the Iceland international midfielder, was deployed at right-back in place of Jason Thomson while Saulius Mikoliunas returned from suspension at the expense of Andrew Driver.

Hearts started brightly, dominating possession and territory. Laryea Kingston, playing just behind lone striker Jamie Mole, combined well with Mikoliunas as the home side appeared to target Airdrie's left flank as their greatest source of vulnerability.

Referee Eddie Smith, one of the officials who have found themselves under fire in the opening weeks of the season, made his first contentious decision of the night when he booked Airdrie midfielder Joseph Cardle for simulation. It appeared harsh as Cardle looked to have been fouled by Jonsson.

Smith then rejected a penalty appeal from Hearts when Stewart went down in the area under a challenge from Airdrie captain Smyth. It was a plausible claim, but while Smith turned it down, he did not caution Stewart for what he presumably felt was a dive.

While Hearts continued to control lengthy spells of play, another teasing Mikoliunas cross missed by both Obua and Mole in the penalty area, Airdrie were threatening on the counter attack and perhaps unfortunate not to snatch the lead before half-time.

Paul Di Giacomo, their close-season recruit from Kilmarnock, forced Kello into his first save of the night with a well struck shot from the edge of the penalty area and the Slovakian 'keeper was up to the task, making a fine save.

Kello was left helpless three minutes before the interval, however, when Di Giacomo unleashed a stunning shot from all of 30 yards. The ball struck the underside of the crossbar, bounced down and then out. Airdrie players claimed it had crossed the line initially, but assistant referee Craig Young was not in a good position to judge. To Hearts' relief, play was waved on.

Buoyed by how close they had come to making the breakthrough, Airdrie had a greater sense of purpose and belief as they began the second half by forcing Kello into another save after McDonald neatly engineered a shooting opportunity for himself.

Hearts responded smartly, Kingston delivering a fine cross from the right which bamboozled the Airdrie defence. Mole got his toe to the ball, but the young Englishman was unable to get enough power on his effort which was scrambled to safety by Robertson.

Laszlo made his first change of the night with 20 minutes remaining and it was not a popular decision with the home fans who jeered the withdrawal of Kingston who was replaced by Audrius Ksanavicius. Kingston made his own feelings clear, angrily remonstrating on the touchline with the manager who had to usher him into the dug-out.

Mikoliunas then contrived to miss a simple chance from close range, signalling an end to his involvement as he was replaced by Cesnauskis.

Hearts: Kello; Jonsson, Zaliukas, Berra, Wallace; Mikoliunas (Cesnauskis 74), Karipidis, Stewart, Obua; Kingston (Ksanavicius 70); Mole (Nade 93). Subs not used: Palazuelos, MacDonald.

Airdrie United: Robertson; Smyth, Donnelly, Nixon, Hazley; McDougall (Smith 83), McDonald, McKenna, McLaughlin, Cardle (Brown 81); Di Giacomo (Lynch 78). Subs not used: Noble, Hollis.

Referee: E Smith.

Attendance: 6,844.

Taken from the Scotsman

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