London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Darryl Broadfoot auth-> Craig Thomson
----- Steven Fletcher
27 of 060 Christian Nade 38 ;Gary Glen 92 SC A

Hibs’ cup hopes lie somewhere over a rainbow

DARRYL BROADFOOT, Chief Football Writer

A rainbow cascaded over Easter Road but, almost inevitably, there would be no pot of gold for Hibernian in this competition.

Christian Nade, preserving his economic output of a goal every weather season, provided an assured finish and Gary Glen compounded the misery for the bedraggled and depleted hosts with a scene-stealing cameo in time added on. It ensured Hearts' place in the fifth round of the Homecoming Scottish Cup, where they will meet Falkirk at Tynecastle.

It was a deserved victory for Csaba Laszlo's workhorses, one earned in a primitive battle low on flair but compelling in the sheer feistiness of the contest. Occasionally, such as last weekend's goalless draw at Tynecastle, the rivalry can screech to a monotonous halt.

Yesterday, the tie swung on a split-second's over-zealousness from Steven Fletcher, a moment of utter conviction from Craig Thomson, the authoritative referee. The Hibernian striker's dismissal for a reckless challenge on Christophe Berra, after a half-hour of chess-like manoeuvres, not only usurped Hibernian's plans but it also emptied a directors' box teeming with scouts from the Barclays Premier League to Coca-Cola League One.

Fletcher's late foul was borne of frustration, having failed to control the initial pass. He may have been inches from a clean tackle, and Berra's over-reaction secured his fate, but Thomson again confirmed his place as the country's foremost referee with a bold and justifiable decision in a high-profile derby.

The last time Hibernian won the Scottish Cup, Edward VII was enthroned, Great Britain claimed South Africa as theirs after a successful end to the second Boer War, Marie Curie refined radium chloride and two sports hacks came up with a neat idea to have men in bikes cycle the length and breadth of France. They will have to see off the recession before their next assault on the tournament.

Hibernian were overpowered in midfield. It was an unusual development for a team that has prided itself on obduracy. Mixu Paatelainen may rue the loss through injury of Steven Thicot, an unremarkable but attentive midfielder.

Having neutered both Rangers and Celtic with a defensive quadrangle of Chris Hogg, Rob Jones, Sol Bamba and Thicot, Paatelainen used Lewis Stevenson as part of a pro-active strategy that unravelled after Fletcher's dismissal.

Hearts were hardly inspirational, but didn't require to be. Forcefulness and perseverance were enough to vanquish an unusually lightweight Hibernian.

Yves Ma-Kalambay had been propelled to iconic status after a series of flawless and even formidable displays in Hibernian's goal. Alas, the Belgian was always destined to lapse back into his old ways. He was culpable for the opening goal and did not reappear for the second half.

Ma-Kalambay was replaced by Gregorzs Szamotulski, the former Dundee United goalkeeper, who immediately demonstrated his own eccentricity with a hazardous passing drill inside his six-yard box. The Pole would later sell a goal of his own. What is it with this club and its error-prone custodians?

Laszlo was soothed by a more reliable bunch. Marius Zaliukas mopped up immaculately and matched Derek Riordan's runs until the striker ran out of steam in the howling wind and driving rain.

Riordan lasted 65 minutes before being hooked by Paatelainen. He departed with a childish gesture towards the Hearts support, received a yellow card for his troubles, and continued his petty huff down the tunnel.

Berra reined himself in after an early booking but dealt comfortably with Jonatan Johansson, the mercurial former Rangers winger who these days brings more experience than he does pace.

Hearts lacked the penetrative surges of Robbie Neilson but instead exploited the dynamic axis of Lee Wallace and Andrew Driver on the other flank.

It was preferable to leaving Christos Karapidis in charge for too long. The Greek is a swaggering and aggressive presence in midfield but is also at his best without the ball at his feet.

He would have the last laugh with a sublime, measured pass for Hearts' second.

Central midfield, so often a decisive zone, was a no-go area. Nade, the eventual matchwinner, was left to fend for himself for much of the match. David Obua, his supposed ally, could do no right. The Ugandan had his gloved right hand up in perpetual apology throughout a hopeless shift.

His control did not befit the showman shoes and poor Obua's day would steadily deteriorate; shelling simple passes out of play and staggering around like an afternoon drunk down Leith Walk.

Even his involvement in the goal was the result of a mis-directed header.

The ball glanced off his temple and, foolishly, Ma-Kalambay deserted his line in futile pursuit. It left Driver with the simple task of collecting the ball and cutting it back to Nade. Not even a man with his paltry goal return could fail to find the empty net.

Paatelainen simpered and squawked from his technical area, to the aggravation of the fourth official, Brian Winter. Thomson eventually intervened but refrained from sending the manager to the stand. The introduction of Colin Nish and Alan O'Brien did little to turn Hibernian's fortunes, nor did the curious addition of minutes at the end.

Instead, Hearts completed a memorable afternoon, Karapidis bisecting the defence with an inch-perfect pass to Glen. The substitute calmly evaded Szamatulski, caught in no-man's land, and finished into an empty net.

Taken from the Herald

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