London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 20 Sep 2008 Hearts 1 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sunday Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stewart Fisher auth-> William Collum
5 of 017 Saulius Mikoliunas 8 L SPL H

It pays to sit on the lead

Hearts 1 - 0 Inverness CT
Stewart Fisher at Tynecastle

HEARTS' PLAYERS may not have been paid their weekly wages yet but when they do finally arrive they will be accompanied by another win bonus. In light of the club's £35m debt, and the chaos engulfing the world's financial markets, a morning revelation that "technical reasons" had delayed the payment of the players' cash was not exactly what anyone at Tynecastle may have wanted to hear, but a third home league win in a row to move to second place in the SPL helped soothe anxiety levels somewhat. The players have been given assurances that their money will be in their accounts on Tuesday morning at the latest, and they certainly earned it yesterday.

Had it not been for the drama unfolding off the field, for once this could have gone down as a rare case of boring Hearts. Saulius Mikoliunas scored his second winning goal of the season as early as the seventh minute, and there then followed a brief flurry where Hearts could quite easily have supplemented their tally, but from then on the Romanian was happy for his side to sit in with five men behind the ball and try to pick their opponents off on the counter. It is not a particularly Scottish way of approaching things, but Laszlo was unrepentant afterwards.

"If we win every game 1-0 then I am happy," he said. "It is the most precious victory. Especially if you score after 10 minutes, everyone waits for 5-0 but it wasn't possible. Maybe in the first ten minutes after that we had other possibilities to shoot some goals but we didn't do it. But most important is what we did tactically. If somebody asked me what mark you gave tactically to the team, then I must give ten, because they didn't give any chances to the opponent. They came and they came and they came but we kept closing the space down. For me that is really good football."

SPL crowds love to hate Saulius Mikoliunas but the Lithuanian has benefited from the absence of the injured Andy Driver to find a starting berth in the Laszlo's side, and there was another glimpse here of what has made him such a cult hero in Gorgie. Just seven minutes were on the clock when he ambled in from his area on the left, allowing his countryman Audrius Ksanavicius to make the incisive early pass which broke the visitors' offside trap. He took one touch to steady himself, before squeezing the ball in at Fraser's near post.

With Christos Karipidis anchoring the midfield expertly, allowing Michael Stewart to flourish in a creative role, Hearts briefly went into top gear. Only a fantastic Fraser save prevented Stewart from recording a goal-of-the-season contender with his delicate cushioned volley from Lee Wallace's long pass, then Eggert Jonsson's overlap opened the space for Kingston to drive 60 yards towards goal and fire a foot over the top corner. The Ghanian had another near miss shortly afterwards, when he got on the end of Jamie Mole's cross but could only direct the ball onto the roof of the net.

For all of Laszlo's boasts, it would be wrong to say that Marian Kello, the Slovak goalkeeper who helped put Rangers out of the Champions League with Kaunas, was a complete by-stander. With Inverness having plenty of the ball, even if they struggled for penetration, Kello had to be out smartly to defy Phil McGuire in the first couple of minutes, and was soon forced to defy a Dougie Imrie shot after his own poor distribution had played his side into difficulty. At the start of the second half, he saved well from Roy McBain after Marius Zaliukas had made a rare error with a defensive header. But at least Kello was prepared to come and claim the ball to ease the pressure which was periodically building on his side, most notably when he nipped in front of a queue of players to claim Grant Munro's attempted long throw.

Laryea Kingston and substitute Ruben Palazuelos both had late chances to make the game safe, but for Hearts the main focus was on the other end. "Some games you just have to grind it out," said skipper Christophe Berra. "Chelsea have been doing it for years." Money worries or not, there was nothing half-hearted about the Tynecastle club yesterday.

Inverness substitutions: Wood for Rooney 61, Wilson for Black 73, Vigurs for McBain 80. Not used: Esson, Djebi-Zadi, McAllister, Duff. Booked: Tokely 28, Wood 64.

Hearts substitutions: Nade for Ksanavicius 60, Palazuelos for Mikoliunas 77, Mrowiec for Stewart 85. Not used: MacDonald, Thomson, Rapnik, Glen. Booked: Ksanavicius 55, Stewart 59, Zaliukas 90.

Referee: W Collum Att: 12,890

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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