London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Graham Spiers auth-> David Somers
[C Porter 11]
12 of 013 ----- L SPL A

Chris Porter leaves suitors broken-hearted
Graham Spiers

This win will do nicely for Motherwell, hauling them further away from that clot of clubs slumming around the relegation area of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. It would also seem a sweet victory for Mark McGhee, the Motherwell manager, and one imbued with a certain relish, given that it was Chris Porter, a Fir Park striker being openly courted by Heart of Midlothian, who killed off the visitors with his first-half header.

But this game will be enough to drive the viewers of BBC Alba, who will be shown the whole match at the weekend, to go out and strangle some sheep as a means of distraction. Hearts were lumpen in their approach, and not at all a side dallying with notions of being cited among the cream of the Scottish game.

Scarcely having created a chance, Csaba Laszlo made three swift and aggressive second-half substitutes, all of them to no avail. Motherwell, in contrast, were rewarded for their first-half skill.

In some ways this was a sombre occasion for Hearts, given the passing earlier in the day, aged 82, of the great Alfie Conn, the last of the “Terrible Trio” of Conn, Bauld and Wardhaugh who constituted that thrilling Hearts attack of 50-plus years ago.

Older Hearts fans will have paused yesterday to remember Conn, who scored 222 goals in 371 matches for the club in an era when 30,000 crowds regularly squeezed into the old Tynecastle. By heavens, the Jam Tarts knew good times back then.

For Conn read today — if this is not too much of a blasphemy — Christian Nade. Hearts’ burly French striker gets no leaner-looking as the weeks pass, indeed, the only thing lean about Nade is his scoring record. On this evidence, though, he will need to be in a team with more attacking wit about it.

Motherwell, who opened with a certain zest about them, claimed a deserved lead through a well-worked goal after 12 minutes. Jim O’Brien, beavering away down the right flank, flicked the ball inside to Paul Quinn, who in turn fed Stephen Hughes, who had infiltrated the Hearts area. Hughes showed lovely presence and composure in turning and lofting the ball to the far post, where Porter leapt to force the ball past Janos Balogh from six yards.

Hearts, without Larry Kingston in their ranks, found it hard to disrupt Motherwell’s passion for the ball in the opening half.

Indeed, Davie Clarkson might have increased the home side’s lead when he cracked his shot too high over Balogh’s bar, with Hearts fairly scurrying to get into this game.

Poor Nade, once more cast as a lone striker for Hearts, was asked to chase a host of aimlessly lumped balls up the park.

Andrew Driver whipped over a free kick that Nade headed high over, but this was the sum of it from Hearts in the opening half. If you were a Hearts fan watching this you could only pray that one of Laszlo’s verbal outpourings at half-time could inject his team with more guile.

Hearts did at least open the second half by forcing a spate of corners, but it took them an eternity to force Graeme Smith into even a half-decent save. The Motherwell goalkeeper was asked to fist this and that away but, in their quest for an equaliser, Hearts were quite plodding. Driver, at least, sought to make some artful progress down the left, but even he rarely got past Quinn and was reduced to manufacturing corners for his side.

In time, Laszlo had enough of this, and hauled off both Nade and David Obua in favour of Calum Elliot and Gary Glen. But as this game meandered on some of those visiting Hearts fans — even the sophisticated ones — began to sound highly disgruntled, peering down morosely from their upper tier of the visitors’ end.

Motherwell (4-4-2): G Smith — P Quinn, M Reynolds, S Craigan, S Hammell — K Lasley, M Klimpl, S Hughes, J O’Brien (sub: J Murphy, 86min) — D Clarkson, C Porter (sub: D Smith, 85). Substitutes not used: A Krysiak, R Malcolm, J Sutton, S McGarry, S Saunders. Booked: Craigan, Klimpl.

Heart of Midlothian (4-4-1-1): J Balogh — R Neilson, C Berra, M Zaliukas, L Wallace (sub: D Cesnauskas, 71) — E Johnsson, R Palazuelos, M Stewart, A Driver — D Obua (sub: G Glen, 67) — C Nade (sub: C Elliot, 62). Substitutes not used: M Kello, R McGowan, D Templeton, M Rapnik.

Referee: D Somers.

Taken from

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