London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2008-09--> All for 20090131
<-Page <-Team Sat 31 Jan 2009 Hamilton Academical 2 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Andrew Smith auth-> Eddie Smith
[S Mensing 11] ;[S Mensing pen 51]
11 of 039 ----- L SPL A

Hearts fold in front of Romanov

Andrew Smith
at New Douglas Park
Mensing 11, 52 pen
MAYBE Vladimir Romanov deigned to make New Douglas Park the first Scottish football ground he visited this season because he wanted to get a feel for a properly-run football club. They do things a lot differently at Hamilton from down Gorgie way. In Lanarkshire they have never chased success by spending beyond their means, have rooted their playing operation in youth development and are now in a position to reject tempting offers for integral performers – an option patently denied to Hearts with the £2.5m cash-in for captain Christophe Berra.

The contrasts between the two clubs extended to their latest contest. For Billy Reid's side did things a whole lot better than their visitors. As soon as Simon Mensing exposed a Berra-less backline's uncertainty with an 11th-minute headed opener, Hamilton had Hearts precisely where they wanted them... and never looked like letting go. Mensing's second, from the penalty spot just after the break, was the equivalent of the home side tightening the vice they had Csaba Lazlo's side gripped in.

Hamilton have an ability to deny opponents time or space by practically man-marking in all areas of the pitch when they are pressing. It is an approach deriving astonishing results. Yesterday was their fifth straight home win, a period during which they haven't conceded a goal. They have lost only once in their past six games. Most impressive of all, it is the first time Hamilton have won four successive league games in the top flight since the Second World War. "Same old Accies, always winning," the home crowd cheekily serenaded their team. In occupying seventh place in the top flight, the followers haven't had so much material for their tunes of top-flight glory in more than two decades.

The intrigue over events at New Douglas Park was always going to revolve around a player who wasn't playing from the moment news filtered through in the morning that Berra was on his way to Wolves. The long-in-the-gestation move inevitably meant the trip to Lanarkshire would be forensically dissected for evidence as to how Laszlo's side would cope without their captain, most influential and, as it turned out, sellable performer.

The surprise was that one of those putting their scalpel to work was the Hearts owner. The cynics would say that Romanov's first appearance at a Hearts game this season was in preparation for wielding a much blunter instrument as the club seek to sell off anyone capable of attracting decent sums.

The Lithuanian banker is a decidedly unsympathetic character, yet it is curious that he is the only owner of a Scottish football club of late who has been lambasted as an asset-striper when he has only reacted to past financial over-reaching and a new economic reality in the same manner as Sir David Murray. So far the only difference between Romanov and the Rangers owner is that Hearts have actually succeeded in cashing in on one of their central performers.

On radio beforehand, Romanov talked in his usual riddles. The club "took a big price" for Berra because otherwise he might have been "stolen by someone later". "If it is right for us maybe business will be done," he said of the possibility of shifting more players.

Andrew Driver is one of the few Hearts players in the £1m-plus bracket, Coventry having offered £1m dead. "We haven't received a satisfactory offer but we have been discussing the player with them," Romanov said.

He said his team was "getting stronger" and would continue to "progress" in the face of such fiscally remedial action. It didn't look that way in the opening period, especially when Brian Easton was able to return the ball into the box following a corner and neither of Hearts' untried central pair of Christos Karipidis and Eggert Jonsson got close enough to Mensing to prevent him being able to head past Jamie MacDonald.

In each half, Hamilton keeper Tomas Cerny produced fine blocks, firstly after a fizzing volley from Driver and later when Michael Stewart broke free, but otherwise Reid's side were secure in themselves. Indeed, when Robbie Neilson came over all octopus arms on James McCarthy in the 52nd minute and downed him before Mensing netted the resultant penalty, the result was assured. In Hearts' world, meanwhile, nothing is assured.

Taken from the Scotsman

<-Page <-Team Sat 31 Jan 2009 Hamilton Academical 2 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © |