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Hearts 1-1 Aberdeen

Oct 26 2008 Euan Mclean Reports

JAMIE LANGFIELD hailed ref Steve Conroy for having the guts to reverse a crucial penalty call - and claimed Hearts star Michael Stewart had CHEATED to win the controversial spot-kick. Tynecastle went into meltdown at the final whistle as enraged Hearts players and coaches tried to get at the whistler and linesman Chris Young over the 84th-minute flashpoint that decided this game.

Conroy had originally pointed to the spot when Langfield dived at Stewart's feet and the Jambos midfielder fell to the sodden turf.

But he was big enough to change his mind after a short debate with linesman Young who had a far better view of the incident and was adamant that the keeper never touched his rival.

Despite the furious reaction of Hearts boss Csaba Laszlo - who later ludicrously denied trying to take issue with the officials on the pitch at full time - the whistler appears to have got the decision bang on.

And Langfield claims Conroy's only mistake was not to book Stewart for diving after the Jambos man privately told him he'd taken a fall on purpose.

The Dons No.1 said: "I didn't touch him. I knew he would get to the ball before me so I pulled my arms away.

"It's actually quite scary how far he was from me when he went over.

"He told me later 'I thought you were coming to hit me'. He said he'd ridden the challenge - but I was nowhere near him.

"He's tried a cheeky one and thankfully for us it's not come off - and we have to thank the linesman for that.

"He deserves a lot of credit for going against the referee but I think Stewart was lucky not to be booked for diving."

It was a contentious end to a pulsating match fought out by teams who deserve credit for trying to pass the ball in conditions better suited to synchronised swimming.

The visitors forged ahead in the 13th minute thanks to the searing pace and composure of Darren Mackie.

The striker's jet-fuelled heels motored him on to the end of a long ball forward from Andrew Considine that Marius Zaliukas had opted to leave.

Racing in on goal, the Dons star held his nerve to slot a clinical low finish under closing keeper Janos Balogh.

But the visitors' joy didn't last long and Hearts hit back in 21 minutes. Lee Wallace did well to drive clear of Derek Young and full-back Jared Hodgkiss.

But better was to come as the 21-year-old worked a swift one two with Christian Nade to rush into the box and smash a terrific finish in the roof of the net.

It was no more than Hearts deserved but they were lucky not to see their hard work undone in a mad moment.

Christos Karipidis was furious that Mackie had caught him with a trailing arm.

He squared up to the Dons man and motioned an attempted headbutt.

No contactwas made but had the referee spotted the Greek's actions the intent alone could have landed him in hot water.

Saulius Mikoliunas wasn't so lucky and copped a 41st-minute booking for sliding in late on Andrew Considine, shortly after he'd flashed a powerful header wide after Bruno Aguiar's corner picked him out in the box.

Frenchman Nade - a scourge of Dons in two previous games - had a chance from another Aguiar corner but failed to keep his free header down.

A flag kick at the other end wreaked havoc too.

Jambos' weak clearance went out only as far as Hodgkiss who unleashed a vicious 25-yard drive that cracked against the underside of Balogh's bar.

Both sides pushed forward in an entertaining end-to-end tussle that defied the conditions.

Lee Mair and the impressive Aguiar both were close with headers before Dons were left cursing the woodwork again.

This time Lee Miller's long-range drive rattled the base of Balogh's right post.

Hearts freshened their front line for the last 15 minutes with Nade's hard shift ended early to make way for Jamie Mole.

Next Deividas Cesnauskis came on for Mikoliunas - before all hell broke loose at the penalty that never was.


STEVE CONROY deserves immense credit for having the guts to overturn his penalty decision on the advice of an even more courageous linesman. TV evidence will prove the decision correct and that caps an excellent display by the whistler - despite what the baying Hearts punters say. Rating: 8/10.

Taken from the Sunday Mail

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