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Accies 2 Hearts 0
Saturday, 31 January 2009

Accies climbed further up the table when they defeated Hearts 2-0 at NDP on Saturday. Simon Mensing, seen celebrating with James McCarthy, was the key man with two goals (one of them from the penalty spot.)

Prior to the game, Hearts had won the last 19 matches between the sides, so there will have been many Accies fans who had never seen their team win against them. In addition, a club record was broken as Accies recorded their fourth successive top league win for the first time since World War 2!

Accies have now not conceded a home league goal since mid November, a feat that has been vital to their climb away from the nether regions of the league.

This Accies team just go from strength to strength. This win against Hearts was the first time they had beaten the Edinburgh outfit for nearly 30 years and ended a run of 19 consecutive defeats against them. It was also the first time Accies had won four consecutive league matches in the top division since World War 2. More importantly, Tomas Cerny's clean sheet meant that they ended January with 5 straight wins in all competition without losing a goal. If that isn't a perfect month I'd like to know what is. Accies have now not conceded a goal at home since Paul Hartley's late winner for Celtic in mid November. So it can't be a surprise after all those stats that they have now moved a massive 12 points away from the foot of the table and to within 2 points of 6th place in the league.

Accies started this game with the team that played the second half against Kilmarnock the previous weekend. Jordan McMillan was out with injury and was replaced by Aussie Trent McClenahan, and he did so well that Billy Reid later described his performance as his best in an Accies shirt. The big news for Hearts was that club captain Christophe Berra had travelled south to finalise a big money transfer to Wolves. Chairman Vladimir Romanov was at at Hearts game for the first time this season and must have been less than impressed at his side's display.

Accies started the game brightly and won a series of corners as they took the game to the Hearts defence. They won their fourth corner in the 12th minute as Bruno Aguiar was off the field receiving treatment for a head knock and made their one man advantage count in fine style. James McArthur was quick to notice that there was no Hearts man anywhere near Brian Easton, so Brian played it short to James. When he got the ball back, Easton curled a tempting left footed cross into the area where it was headed home by Simon Mensing. The Accies players and fans celebrated in style as Mensing's important run of goals continued.

Hearts came back into the game quickly, with their main threat coming from Ugandan forward David Obua on the right wing. He hit a low cross across the area where Michael Stewart flicked it goalwards, only to see the ball hit the base of the post and out for a goal kick. Tomas Cerny was relieved then but the Czech 'keeper pulled off a brilliant save after half an hour when he spread himself to block a certain goal from Stewart. It was a fantastic point blank save by Tomas and his part in the clean sheet cannot be over emphasised.

Accies deserved their lead at the break and it only took them a further 7 minutes to double their lead and clinch the victory. It started with a good pass down the left from Brian Easton to the irrepressible James McCarthy. The teenager shielded the ball from Robbie Neilson and was hauled down by the full back as he cut inside him. It was a clear penalty and Simon Mensing fired the ball low past Jamie McDonald. With Accies now having a clear advantage they retreated into the shells a bit and Hearts had more possession. However, for all their territorial advantage at times they never seriously threatened Cerny's goal. Richard Offiong made his way into the referee's notebook for a foul near the half way line.

Billy Reid made his first change after an hour, with Derek Lyle replacing Paul McGowan on the right. This change was followed shortly afterwards by the replacement of Richard Offiong with Joel Thomas. Richard had a pretty good game but didn't have any real chances either to score or to run at the Hearts defence. The one time he looked like doing something ended when he was pulled back by David Obua in the first half, an offence that led to a yellow card for the Hearts man.

Accies did their best to catch Hearts out on the counter attack but were thwarted by the visitor's offside trap. Accies were caught offside about 10 times in the second half, with Joel Thomas the chief offender. However, Thomas was involved in a move that nearly brought a late goal for Derek Lyle, with Lyle's looping header being caught by McDonald just under his crossbar. Hearts fired in a few shots at Tomas Cerny, but the Accies 'keeper handled them all comfortably.

It's hard to pick out the best players for Accies as it could be applied to most of the team! Trent McClenahan was singled out for praise by his manager after his great display against Andy Driver and David Obua, while Alex Neil marked the highly rated Bruno Aguiar out of the game. Martin Canning did well beside the superb Mark McLaughlin, Brian Easton had another good match and has added dead ball delivery to his game with fine results. In midfield, McCarthy and McArthur showed their promise yet again and Simon Mensing grabbed those two priceless goals.

So it was another impressive home win for Accies and after the game Billy Reid repeated that his key players are not for sale and that he's looking to add to his squad before the transfer window closes on Monday. This is a good time to be an Accies fan and the club is in a stronger position than any time since the 1930's.
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