London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 04 Oct 2008 Hearts 1 Kilmarnock 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Craig Thomson
[M Taouil 18] ;[C Bryson 81]
9 of 012 Laryea Kingston 33 L SPL H

Hearts count cost of complacency

CSABA Laszlo made an immediate, positive impact when he became Hearts manager, but there have been signs this past fortnight that sustained improvement will take longer.
In Saturday's loss to Kilmarnock, Laszlo's side were at least more competitive than they had been in the heavier defeat at Dundee United a week earlier, and with a little good fortune they might even have snatched their first draw of the season. Compared to their earlier home outings, however, this performance was a poor, disjointed display.

"In the first four or five games the team did what I wanted," Laszlo noted after a result which saw Kilmarnock take over third position in the Premier League from his side. "In the Dundee United game they began to go back."

The problem in this match, the manager went on to note, was that his team had failed to follow his game plan in the first half, missing out the midfield in favour of a long-ball game. A talk at the break, he said, had solved that problem. "After half-time, there was more stability."

Maybe so, but a couple of questions still arise. Why did Hearts go against their manager's instructions? And why, when he is evidently capable of remonstrating volubly from the sidelines, could Laszlo not sort things out before half-time?

What is more, while they may have played to orders in the second half, they ended that 45 minutes on the losing side. They had at least achieved parity playing their own game in the first.

Laszlo said lack of concentration remained a problem, while the captain, Christophe Berra, suggested his team-mates might have read too much into their previous 100 per cent home record and not realised how much work would be required against Kilmarnock. But, if they did not know it before kick-off, it should not have taken Hearts long to understand how hard they would have to graft against a visiting team who dominated the opening stages with some crisp passing and determined running.

Kilmarnock maintained those virtues throughout, particularly through Mehdi Taouil, David Fernandez and Danny Invincibile, and Hearts supporters frustrated by their team should at least acknowledge that the opposition had something to say about the result. In an SPL season where there is little to separate the ten clubs below the Old Firm, none of those ten can afford to presume itself superior to the rest.

The funding provided by Vladimir Romanov may have given Hearts a better chance than their rivals of establishing themselves as the so-called third force in Scottish football, but the players brought in by Laszlo have not yet had time to make a difference. The Danish striker Mike Tullberg, for instance, was only making his first start, and has yet to get match-fit.

So it would be premature to write off Tullberg, or the Ugandan midfielder David Obua, the manager's other key purchase, who was missing from this game because of injury. In the case of the strike force, however, it should be noted that none of the four men used – Tullberg and Jamie Mole started up front, Christian Nade and Juho Makela were there at the end – got on the scoresheet. You cannot legislate against injuries, but eight games into the season you should at least have one striker you can rely on to score more than the odd goal.

Instead, all the best chances fell to Laryea Kingston. The Ghanaian took his goal well, steering the ball just inside the right post after Simon Ford had blocked a Michael Stewart shot, but he was not so accurate with a couple of late headed chances, and also saw a 70th-minute shot saved well by Alan Combe.

Kingston's goal was the culminating moment of an improved spell from Hearts which had begun after they had gone behind to a superbly taken strike by Taouil direct from a free-kick.

The home side enjoyed another decent passage of play in the first quarter-hour of the second half, and first Saulius Mikoliunas, then Kingston, had chances to put them ahead.

Kilmarnock had fewer opportunities, but with around ten minutes to play they made one count. A simple ball from substitute Donovan Simmonds split the defence, and Craig Bryson ran on to poke it past Marian Kello in the Hearts goal.


Mehdi Taouil (Kilmarnock)

The Moroccan midfielder's goal direct from a free-kick was the one moment of excellence in an otherwise undistinguished encounter. In open play, his intelligent running on and off the ball helped give his team the edge.

Taken from the Scotsman

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