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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Steve Conroy
[D Mackie 13]
3 of 015 Lee Wallace 21 L SPL H

Jambos left to rue ref's indecision

Aberdeen - Mackie 13
Hearts - Wallace 20
HEARTS were again left cursing SFA officialdom after drawing with Aberdeen as referee Steve Conroy awarded them a late penalty before changing his mind in extraordinary circumstances. After pointing to the spot following Jamie Langfield's challenge on Michael Stewart, Conroy went back on his call having consultated with assistant referee Chris Young. The decision left Hearts outraged and resulted in home manager Csaba Laszlo entering the field at full-time to confront Conroy.

Scenes at the end were peppered by individuals clashing on the field and Laszlo may now find himself called before the SFA to explain his actions. His frustration was understandable, however, given that the penalty incident occurred at a time when Hearts looked likely to edge in front.

Both goals had arrived during the first half, Darren Mackie the perpetrator for Aberdeen and Lee Wallace equalising just seven minutes later. Nonetheless, post-match conversation was dominated by the penalty that was awarded then cancelled by Conroy, a referee who has previous with Hearts after being accused of racism by Larry Kingston at Pittodrie last year.

What did take place was an enthralling match littered with drama and entertainment on the most slippery of surfaces. Andy Driver was a notable absentee for Hearts despite returning from injury in last weekend's Edinburgh derby. Having toiled with thigh and pelvis complaints all week, he failed a midday fitness test and was replaced in the starting 11 by Ruben Palazuelos. Saulius Mikoliunas deputised for Larry Kingston on the opposite flank, whilst Janos Balogh started in goal for the first time.

The swirling wind and surface water were hardly conducive to flowing football, and the conditions made a telling contribution to the opening goal on 13 minutes. Andrew Considine's through pass from the left-back zone skidded beyond Marius Zaliukas to the onrunning Mackie. The Lithuanian appeared unaware of his opponent's movement and Mackie proceeded with a tidy finish through the legs of Janos Balogh.

This prompted travelling supporters to launch streamers onto the Tynecastle pitch, but their celebrations were muted seven minutes later when Wallace restored parity. The full-back played a precise one-two with Christian Nade on the edge of Aberdeen's penalty area and, taking the return, lofted the ball high into Langfield's net with an exquisite finish.

The game continued in end-to-end fashion with Hearts appearing to grow in strength as the first half progressed. Saulius Mikoliunas headed Bruno Aguiar's corner wide before Zander Diamond interrupted a fluent home attack with the aid of his arm on 35 minutes. Despite denying Mikoliunas a clear run at Langfield by doing so, referee Conroy allowed play to continue. He then further incurred the wrath of home supporters by booking Saulius Mikoliunas for his first foul of the afternoon, a late sliding challenge on Andrew Considine.

Both teams emerged in search of a second goal after the interval, which ought to have arrived on 54 minutes when Nade nodded Aguiar's corner over the Aberdeen crossbar from four yards. At the other end Balogh seemed less than assured and, following a corner needlessly conceded by the Hungarian, Jared Hodgkiss struck Hearts' crossbar. The entertainment was at a premium and showed little sign of relenting in a fixture played more like a February cup tie than a late October league meeting.

Aguiar headed wide from Nade's 74th-minute cross, but Aberdeen's attacking threat was always evident and led to Lee Miller, the former Tynecastle forward, striking woodwork 60 seconds later with a raking drive from distance.

Entering the final ten minutes, the game was evenly balanced. One telling intervention from either side would have guaranteed victory, and it seemed Stewart had produced that moment six minutes from time. He surged into the penalty area and fell under Langfield's challenge, prompting referee Conroy to point to the penalty spot. As the home players celebrated Conroy then consulted with his far side assistant, Chris Young, before going back on his decision and awarding Aberdeen a goal kick. At first glance it seemed a blatant penalty and Hearts' sense of injustice was evident all around Tynecastle. The thought also arrived that Stewart, were it not a penalty, should then have been cautioned for diving.

At the very least, the sight of a referee acting on orders from an assistant was unprecedented.

Laszlo's side continued pressing for a winning goal into stoppage time. Substitute Deividas Cesnauskis struck a post and Jamie Mole sent the rebound into the Gorgie Road Stand, but the feeling of being victimised by referees saw Laszlo charge onto the field at full-time. He headed for Conroy but was halted by a combination of the fourth official, John McKendrick, and his coaching staff.

Several players also clashed, and leaving the stadium it was undeniable that Conroy's call was one of the most bizarre ever seen in Gorgie.

Hearts (4-4-1-1): Balogh; Jonsson, Zaliukas, Berra, Wallace; Mikoliunas, Karipidis, Stewart, Palazuelos; Aguiar; Nade. Subs: MacDonald, Makela, Cesnauskis 79 (for Mikoliunas), Mole 76 (for Nade), Thomson, Ksanavicius 86 (for Aguiar), Rapnik.

Aberdeen (4-4-2): Langfield; Hodgkiss, Diamond, Mair, Considine; Young, Severin, Foster, Aluko; Mackie, Miller. Subs: Bateman, Mulgrew 89 (for Miller), Wright, Kerr, Duff, De Visscher, Maguire.

Referee: Steve Conroy.

Taken from the Scotsman

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