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<-Page <-Team Sat 15 Nov 2008 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 0 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Mike Tumilty
20 of 020 Bruno Aguiar 22 L SPL A

Hearts shut up shop for winning run

APPARENTLY Hearts have altered their mentality from the uninhibited attacking approach that characterised Csaba Laszlo's initial matches as manager.
Now it's a case of shut up shop, score a goal, shut up shop and, er, shut up shop some more. With three consecutive 1-0 victories posted in a week, there can be little argument over the merits of such an approach.

Just over a week ago, an air of doom and gloom was threatening to envelope Tynecastle after a five-game winless run. Successive triumphs over St Mirren, Hamilton and Inverness have put paid to any such depression. In fact, Hearts returned from the Highlands on Saturday with notable buoyancy after ascending to third in the SPL table, giving an altogether different perspective on their prospects of European qualification.

Even as recently as last month's home match with Aberdeen, the inclination to go forward with panache at every opportunity was having damaging consequences at the opposite end of the pitch.

Laszlo also blames this attitude for the loss of points against Falkirk and Kilmarnock. Bearing this in mind, he is thoroughly entitled to be satisfied with Hearts' new-found miserliness. Inverness offered even less threat than St Mirren or Hamilton did and, for manager Craig Brewster, appear worryingly bereft of both an instinctive scorer and any creativity. After Bruno Aguiar slotted a precise finish beyond Ryan Esson from 25 yards midway through the opening 45 minutes, there seemed a resignation from the hosts that scoring was beyond them. "Maybe we could have played till midnight and not scored," was Brewster's summation.

In his team's defence, Hearts were hardly in charitable mood. Those successive 1-0 victories inside the last seven days have been achieved with discipline and a resolve which was perhaps absent at times earlier in the season. "I have been here three years and I can't remember winning three games consecutively," said Aguiar. "I think we are a solid team now. Maybe we don't play fantastic football but I prefer wins to beautiful football. Against Hibs we played fantastic football and drew. It's better to win. We are in third position now and we are happy."

Laszlo, understandably, was keen to accentuate the new-found doggedness within his team. "We now have a new rule, which is first don't lose the game and second don't give the chance for your opponents to score," he said.

"You can score from 25 metres without a chance but we are trying always to have stability. Especially in the second half, we did what we train to do. My opinion is always that, if you stay very good in defence and you play in the midfield, with stability and confidence, you can be successful. At the back we were very solid, we didn't give too many chances for the opponents.

"The team understands how to be more cool now. You need this coolness in professional football. We have had a lot of games, like Aberdeen, Kilmarnock, Falkirk, Hibs, where we were very offensive and played attractive football but we forgot to have the stability behind. Now we go very early to make it 1-0 and after that we stand behind. There was a lot of effort put in.

"It is my job to stabilise the side, not to go too far up or too far down. We have two home games coming (against Falkirk and Rangers] and I have a new puzzle because Michael Stewart is out. We are at home so we must change the thinking, we cannot stay too deep, we must come out a little bit. This is the new situation.

"Against Rangers I don't want to lose. I hope we can win the next two games 1-0 also."

The only genuine moments of consternation for Hearts came in first-half stoppage time. Andy Barrowman, the Inverness striker, chased a through ball and forced it past Janos Balogh near the edge of the visitors' penalty area. An untidy scrap ensued before Adam Rooney slid in for what seemed a certain equaliser until the grounded Robbie Neilson intervened with a goal-saving tackle. The hosts then claimed vehemently for a penalty when Rooney fell under Lee Wallace's challenge, however referee Mike Tumilty refused their requests.

Laszlo continued: "Maybe we had a little bit of luck before half-time when Neilson saved on the line. This was the key point in the game. If the opponents had scored then we would have lost a bit of confidence. Robbie did a god job and I was more angry about why the midfield lost the ball."

Aguiar's goal was a prime advert for continental technique and class. He gathered Wallace's infield pass and instantly moved the ball from right foot to left before guiding it almost nonchalantly into the corner of the net. Forwards still find goals difficult to come by at Tynecastle and, with Laszlo fielding only one thoroughbred striker, the odds on that player scoring are naturally low. Nonetheless, the manager is unlikely to complain if the upward turn of results continues.

"We now have nine points. We can talk about how many goals you score, the most important is one more than your opponents," he said. "Other than the goalkeeper, everybody is available to score. Zaliukas has scored, Eggert has scored, we have had goals from midfield with Michael Stewart and from the wings with Miko and Driver. This, for me, is modern football. It is not important who scores, everybody must be available to score and everybody must go back and defend. I don't make a difference between defensive and offensive players."

Laszlo will note, though, that it is his more defensive-minded players who have made the difference of late.

Taken from the Scotsman

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