London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Mike Aitken auth-> Charlie Richmond
19 of 027 Bruno Aguiar 61 ;Hristos Karipidis 80 L SPL A

Inspired Aguiar strike illuminates gloom

THIS was a sparkling result for Hearts which derived from a largely flat performance. Csaba Laszlo's side collected three valuable points in Ayrshire after they twice sprang to life and scored a couple of excellent second-half goals against a Kilmarnock side which has forgotten how to win games on home turf. It would be an act of self-deception, mind you, to confuse Hearts' resilience with attainment.
What can be fairly said about this Tynecastle side is they are well organised and have a defined system of play which makes them hard to beat. Within this structure, there were a number of capable footballers in action against Kilmarnock – Christophe Berra, Michael Stewart, Christos Karipidis and Bruno Aguiar – who supplied the seasoning of defiance which set up the Edinburgh club's first win in the Premier League since November. Whatever else they lacked, Hearts showed plenty of character at Rugby Park.

After a run of five league games in which they'd scored only one goal, losing twice and drawing three times, Hearts started this match in second gear and were extremely fortunate not to find themselves a goal or two adrift by half-time. Any bounce from the derby win over Hibs in the Scottish Cup needed a microscope to be detected in what was a disjointed opening 45 minutes.

True, Laszlo was forced to shuffle the pack because of injuries and suspension. The introduction of Jamie McDonald in goal, who went on to have an excellent game, and Jason Thomson at left-back with Eggert Jonsson switching to centre-half meant there were elements of uncertainty in Hearts' collective defensive work which Kilmarnock should have punished.

Further forward, David Obua had nothing to offer in terms of delivering crosses or setting up chances, while Christian Nade lumbered through the game. Hearts didn't create a single chance during the first half and were so one-dimensional in their approach that Alan Combe, the Kilmarnock goalkeeper, rued afterwards: "They came here with a game plan of sitting in and boring us to death and it worked."

Although driving rain and strong wind didn't encourage the creative spirits on the pitch, Hearts knew they were pretty awful in that first half. Laszlo delivered a few home truths during the interval team talk and Hearts rolled up their sleeves to perform with far more cohesion in the second period when they demonstrated an unexpectedly ruthless streak in front of goal.

Karipidis, who scored the clinching second goal with a close-range header after Stewart's free-kick had pinpointed Berra at the back post, didn't shirk the charge that Hearts were below their best for long stretches of the contest. "It wasn't the best game for my team," observed the holding midfielder. "We changed things in the dressing room at half-time and were better in the second half. In football, you must have a little bit of luck."

Nothing was more distinguished about Hearts' contribution to this scruffy contest than the opening goal. Stewart, who was brave enough to compete for more than one lost cause in the first half, served up a reminder of his other talents when he worked a clever interchange of passes with Andrew Driver down the left flank before supplying a shrewd pass towards Aguiar.

No-one currently on Hearts' books better understands how to play the attacking midfield role in support of a lone striker. A technically accomplished player with a good football brain, Aguiar struck a crisp low shot from 20 yards which swept past Combe into the far corner of the net. It was a goal fit to win any game and set Kilmarnock back on their heels.

While Aguiar's opening strike will stick in the memories of most who were at Rugby Park on Saturday, it was the part played by Stewart in helping to set up both of Hearts' goals which impressed Laszlo. Having sat on the bench for most of the tie against Hibernian the previous weekend, the Scot had a point to prove.

"We had a lot of conversations and I told him when I came here I saw a Mike Stewart who was a leader, who came to be a national team player, but he lost everything and was not satisfied," revealed Laszlo. "It was not a great performance but his attitude today was the old one. He can make the difference in any team, but a lot of the time his only big enemy is himself and he needs a guide. Not many players have eight years of experience at Manchester United. He must use this and show his quality."

While Jim Jefferies, the Kilmarnock manager, insists he would be more concerned if his side were not making chances – they've lost seven of their last eight games at Rugby Park – Danny Invincibile, who missed Kilmarnock's best chance, says it's unthinkable the tide won't turn when they meet local rivals Ayr United in a Scottish Cup replay on Thursday.

"We're not playing the full 90 minutes," he admitted. "It's something we have to rectify. The last thing in the world we would want is for that (run] to continue on Thursday. Let's get that feeling back of winning at home."

Taken from the Scotsman

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