London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Eddie Smith
----- Kevin Alan McDonald
9 of 010 ----- LC H

Hearts' cup defeat leaves Laszlo looking at league

THE league campaign may well have been Csaba Laszlo's main concern when he first arrived at Tynecastle – for now it's his only one after watching his side crash out of the Co-Operative Insurance Cup.

The home side left the field to a chorus of boos when two saved penalties from Lee Wallace and David Obua sent First Division Airdrie United into the next round after 120 minutes of open play had passed without a single goal.

The Hearts manager in sisted that his side must rediscover their touch in front of goal against Hamilton this weekend if they are to prevent a drama from turning into a crisis.

The home side, who this week loaned Calum Elliot to Livingston, clearly carry little threat in the final third of the field and passed up a number of chances against Kenny Black's well-organised Diamonds, who played out the final minutes with ten men after Kevin McDonald was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Admittedly the visitors' main threat came by way of the counter attack but they were wrongly denied a first-half goal when referee Eddie Smith ruled that Paul di Giacomo's 30-yard effort had not crossed the line after it had bounced down off the underside of the bar and their defence mopped up everything that Hearts could throw at them.

Hearts could have no complaints about the result but Laszlo admitted there had been disappointment and disbelief in the dressing room after the match.

"Everyone is disappointed. You cannot only play good football, you have also got to score goals and we did not do that.

"If you do not score and the game goes to penalty kicks then the chances of you winning are 50-50 and it is like a lottery.

"We lost the lottery and we are out, I am upset for the people who have come to Tynecastle to watch us and wanted to celebrate a victory with the team.

"It is time to wake up. It is not okay if you do not fight, if you do not give 200 per cent.

"We are out so we must concentrate on the Scottish Cup and on the league campaign instead and we must take the points against Hamilton this weekend.

"We will see another team out there this weekend, not in terms of the people playing but in the way that they are playing and from their confidence."

Despite international clearance coming through yesterday, it was too late for goalkeeper Janos Balogh to make it into the Hearts squad, Marian Kello retaining his place between the sticks and Jamie MacDonald taking the place on the bench.

The Jambos had an early chance to open their account when Larry Kingston's corner in four minutes found Christos Karipidis in space in the middle of the box but the big Greek couldn't connect with the ball.

Former Kilmarnock striker Di Giacomo was causing a real nuisance and his persistence saw him win a corner off Christophe Berra just a few minutes later. It was taken by Steven McDougall and it was a good one, finding its way through to Stephen McKenna but his header looped just over Kello's bar.

While Hearts were creating chances, they were finding it difficult to get past the Diamonds' well-organised defenders who again frustrated their hosts when a ball over the top from Karipidis was collected by Kingston. He in turn diverted it into the path of Saul Mikoliunas but unfortunately for the home crowd, the Lithuanian's ball into the box, where David Obua, Michael Stewart and Jamie Mole were lurking, was well cut out by David Nixon.

With just under half an hour gone Kello pulled off a brilliant block from Di Giacomo from 12 yards out when the rest of the Hearts defence looked to have fallen asleep and they were saved again three minutes before the break when Di Giacomo again showed his class only to be denied by the referee.

His thunderous shot from fully 30 yards beat Kello all ends up and, when it came off the underside of the crossbar and bounced away, it looked as though it had crossed the line in the process. But Eddie Smith didn't agree and waved play on with his far side assistant still racing down his line to catch up with play.

The hush that greeted the crashing shot from the Hearts supporters suggested the majority thought it had crossed the line.

At the other end Mole got the slightest of touches on a cross from Kingston and it would have been enough to take it into the net had it not been for the outstretched hand of Stephen Robertson, who stopped it almost on the line with his fingertips and a defender was on hand to clear it before Obua could tap the loose ball home.

Laszlo tried to change things around with 69 minutes gone when he replaced Kingston with Audrius Ksanavicius, a decision which was greeted with a chorus of boos as the midfielder left the field. He was none too impressed by the decision either and wagged his finger in Laszlo's face as he made his way back into the dug out, the Hearts boss ushering his midfielder away with a wave of his hand.

With 15 minutes remaining Mikoliunas found himself with a glorious opportunity when in space just a couple of yards out but somehow managed to send his effort past the post rather than inside it.

It was left to Airdrie keeper Robertson to single-handedly consign Hearts to defeat with two top-drawer blocks in the dying minutes of extra time.

The Diamonds stopper reacted like a flash of lightning to smother a snapshot from Deividas Cesnauskis from the edge of the box, then brilliantly palmed away a powerful effort from Christian Nade and was no doubt relieved when Stewart could only turn the rebound over the bar from close range to send the match to spot-kicks. Black, who saw Simon Lynch, Marc Smyth, Mathew Hazley and Scott McLaughlin successfully convert from 12 yards and Karipidis, Eggert Jonsson and Stewart hit back for Hearts, was delighted by the part his keeper played in the victory and insisted that he had believed all along that Robertson was capable of denying Hearts from the spot.

He said: "Our keeper had two or three fantastic saves in normal time as well as extra-time, and I fancied him to save one during the penalty shoot-out. What he lacks in size he more than makes up for and I think that he is one of the best shot-stoppers in our division.

"He will probably get a lot of plaudits for his performance and he fully deserves them. I believe that the effort in the first half from Di Giacomo was a yard over the line but I thought that on effort alone we deserved to take it to penalties at least, but you are always worried because these things sometimes don't pan out the way that you hope they will.

"I was actually quite relaxed before the penalties. I have been fortunate enough over the years though with Airdrie against Hearts that I managed to beat them in the Scottish Cup semi-final a few years back.

"I am delighted for everyone connected with the club and for the players for the effort that they put in to get the result."

Taken from the Scotsman

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