London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sun 11 Jan 2009 Hibernian 0 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Stuart Lovell auth-> Craig Thomson
----- Steven Fletcher
21 of 060 Christian Nade 38 ;Gary Glen 92 SC A

Another derby, another difficult game to watch

TWO Edinburgh derbies in the space of a week and let's be honest, neither of them have been much fun to watch.
I went along to yesterday's game as a spectator and all I can say is, thank god I didn't have to pay to get in because the football served up by both teams was pretty awful.

Yes, conditions were poor with strong winds, driving rain and a playing s urface guilty of providing more than a few bobbles, but surely we were entitled to expect better than that?

The lack of goalmouth action and efforts on goal was a source of frustration for both sets of supporters, although the bottom line for the Jambos is that their team came out on top and when it comes to the Cup, being in the draw for the next round is really all that matters.

There were two crucial incidents over the 90 minutes which turned the game on its head – the sending off of Steven Fletcher and the positional sense of Hibs' keeper, Yves Ma-Kalambay, in the build-up to Hearts' opening goal.

First things first, the red card for Fletcher was a very tough one to call.

I was surprised how little time referee Craig Thomson took to make his decision but no-one can say with any degree of certainty whether he got it right or wrong.

I spoke to a number of the press-boys at half-time and full-time and the verdict was split down the middle.

Some felt it was harsh to send him off for what was effectively a striker's tackle, mis-timed and clumsy in the extreme, but not a deliberate attempt to injure an opponent.

Others felt he went in with his studs showing and had to go.

Personally, I'm still not sure. My initial reaction was the challenge was worthy of a yellow card, but no more than that.

On seeing it again at half-time though, it looked a bad tackle and I can understand why the ref chose to send him packing.

You will probably make your own mind up depending on what camp you're in, but for those who want to criticise Craig Thomson put yourself in his shoes and think how much more difficult the decision becomes when you only get one look at it.

There is an old saying that we should expect these kind of challenges in a match of this nature and the officials should be more lenient in a derby – I think that's a load of nonsense.

A bad tackle is a bad tackle regardless of what game it happens to be in.

One thing I would point out is that Steven Fletcher is not the type to deliberately hurt an opponent, you only have to look at his career history to know that. Before yesterday's match he'd never been sent off and had been booked just 13 times in 175 first-team games.

Should that have counted in his favour and forced the referee to give him the benefit of the doubt? Maybe.

One thing which is not open for debate is how much that decision changed the course of the match.

Up until then, Hearts hadn't managed to string two passes together and they'd been unable to offer any attacking threat whatsoever.

In fairness, the home side weren't much better and their best chance, arguably their only chance, fell, ironically, to Steven Fletcher.

At his most confident, Fletcher would have put it away with his eyes closed, but he took too long to get his shot away and the opportunity went begging.

The game was dying a death until Ma-Kalambay decided to go walkabout, allowing Andrew Driver to cut the ball back for Nade to slot home from close range.

As an old team-mate of mine used to say, as a goalkeeper if you come off your line you've got to affect the game. Take the ball, the opponent, the lot, but whatever you do make sure you clear the danger. Ma-Kalambay has a habit of losing his concentration and taking up the wrong positions – not what a manager is looking for in a keeper.

It may have taken yesterday's mistake to reinforce Mixu's view that new signing Grzegorz Szamotulski has to be given the nod.

The second half was like watching paint dry with Hibs offering little going forward and Hearts content to play keep-ball.

The icing on the cake for Csaba Laszlo's men came late in the game when Gary Glen sprinted on to a perfectly-weighted pass from Karipidis and finished with aplomb.

As I said after last week's derby, the boy has definitely got talent and he deserves a chance to show it by getting a run in the side.

Let's face it, Hearts are hardly well off for quality strikers.

Taken from the Scotsman

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