London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 13 Sep 2008 Falkirk 2 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Ewing Grahame auth-> Steve Conroy
[N McCann 3] ;[S Arfield 89]
3 of 016 Michael Stewart 71 L SPL A

Falkirk 2-1 Hearts

Ewing Grahame
SCOTT Arfield's late winner, a sumptuous strike from 18 yards after Steve Lovell had set him up, suggested the Hearts revival is yet another false dawn but the afternoon truly belonged to Neil McCann.
There are those who believe there is room for sentiment in professional sport. These people are also of the opinion that the moon is made of green cheese and do not doubt the existence of the Tooth Fairy. Needless to say, McCann is not included among their number.

The former Scotland winger had two spells at Tynecastle, the first markedly more successful than the second, and has never attempted to hide his affection for the Jambos. Nevertheless, that did not prevent him from drawing first blood against Csaba Laszlo's side yesterday nor celebrating his goal as though it had been scored in a World Cup final.

It came with a large dollop of fortune, although the injury-plagued McCann may have reasoned that he was overdue some of that. Certainly, Graham Barrett's cutback from the right would never have found him if it hadn't been inadvertently deflected into his path by Christophe Berra. McCann, though, still had work to do but he dispatched an angled drive behind Marian Kello with élan.

His joy was understandable: his previous goal had come for Southampton at Northampton four years ago and the last time he scored in the SPL was in February, 2003, for Rangers at Dunfermline. "I was surprised to start after being out for five weeks with a hamstring injury," he said. "The manager had told me to gamble by running into the pocket and I took that chance because you can sometimes catch defenders out that early in the game.

"When the ball went in I was just ecstatic. It was quite special and not because it was against my old club because I still have a lot of love for Hearts. I was just delighted for the management, the team and the backroom staff that we got the win after the disappointing start we'd had."

The setback briefly galvanised the visitors, however, and Laryea Kingston's firm shot from the edge of the penalty area forced a fine save from Robert Olejnik low to his left.

Polish midfielder Adrianj Mrowiec, making his debut, should have restored parity midway through the first half but somehow managed to pull his shot wide from six yards.

Referee Craig Thomson annoyed both sets of supporters with his decision-making, which is usually the sign of a decent performance. But Tam Scobbie could have few complaints about the caution he received and Saulius Mikoliunas deserved the yellow card he was shown for his late challenge on Olejnik.

Mrowiec's cross from the by-line seemed destined to be buried at the far post by Jamie Mole until Darren Barr produced an outstanding defensive header to nick the ball away.

Michael Higdon had his name taken for chopping down Michael Stewart and, in truth, the second 45 minutes was notable more for its physical aspect than any flowing football.

Stewart's goal, a piledriver from 25 yards, came from a free-kick awarded after Kevin McBride had been booked for pulling the Scotland midfielder down. Marius Zaliukas, previously cautioned, was lucky not to see red for a late lunge at Lee Bullen but Arfield guaranteed that justice was done.

The Hearts manager, Csaba Laszlo, refused to be too downbeat. "We lost three points but not our pride," he said. "Our fans were not angry with us because they saw us play good football. You can't win every game but we will keep trying."

His opposite number, John Hughes, made no attempt to disguise his satisfaction at the way in which his charges had grafted for the points.

"I've seen us play better football but I couldn't fault the players for their commitment, effort, character and spirit," he said. "We've always been a working-class, boiler-suit club, perhaps because Brockville was such a dilapidated old ground but we should never forget those values just because we have a new stadium."

Taken from the Scotsman

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