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<-Page <-Team Sat 31 Jan 2009 Hamilton Academical 2 Hearts 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Sunday Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Johnston auth-> Eddie Smith
[S Mensing 11] ;[S Mensing pen 51]
12 of 039 ----- L SPL A

Homegrown heroes give Romanov cause for reflection

Barry Johnston
Hamilton 2 - 0 Hearts:

Hearts owner Vladimir Romanov watched his side in action for the first time this season yesterday

HEARTS OWNER Vladimir Romanov watched his side in action for the first time this season yesterday and was, with a strong whiff of irony, presented with a prototype of everything a forward thinking, well-run club can be - and all that his outfit, at present, are not.

His timing and choice of fixture may have been predestined by a need to conduct some important business before the close of the transfer window tomorrow, but the contrast between these two sides, both on the park and off it, must surely have struck the Russian-born banker.

While Romanov has been spending the weekend desperately trying to offload his club's most sellable assets, diminutive Hamilton picked a ragged Hearts team apart to clinch a fifth successive win and clean sheet. That the victory, courtesy of two goals by Simon Mensing, was engineered largely by the work of a pluck of outstanding home grown players, bids for whom have been fended off, was a further indictment of Hearts' own recent policies.

The notable absence from the visitors' starting line-up was Christophe Berra, the captain. As his Tynecastle team-mates, accompanied by Romanov, set off for New Douglas Park, the defender, who celebrated his 24th birthday yesterday, was locked in talks with Wolves after Hearts accepted a £2.3 million offer for him from the Coca-Cola Championship club.

While another of the Edinburgh club's prized assets, Andy Driver, was in the side, the Englishman's future is also in serious doubt, with Coventry City set to pounce.

Hamilton, in contrast, appear set to win their battle to hold on to their sought-after trio of James McCarthy, Brian Easton and James McArthur. Chairman Roddie McDonald should retain their services until the end of the season, at least, barring a too-good-to-refuse late offer.

With just 12 minutes played, two of those players combined to create Simon Mensing's opening goal. Easton played a short corner to McArthur who returned the ball for the Scotland Under-21 left-back to curl a deliciously-inviting cross into the six-yard box, where Mensing took advantage of the visitors' slack marking to glance home a header.

It was an early sign of Hearts' defensive vulnerability without Berra, but 18 minutes later, the Tynecastle side came close to levelling the score. Bruno Aguiar drove a cross into the home penalty area from the left wing and Michael Stewart connected in mid-air to fire a vicious volley at goal from just eight yards. However, Tomas Cerny, Hamilton's Czech goalkeeper, threw himself at the ball to block and smother the danger.

The second half brought more possession for the home side and, on 51 minutes, a further moment of excellence from another prodigy resulted in Mensing doubling his tally from the penalty spot. Easton chipped a superbly-weighted ball over the head Christos Karipidis to find McCarthy, lurking on the left byline. The teenager's control was instantaneous as he glided into the box before being crudely toppled by Robbie Neilson. Referee Eddie Smith was unhesitating in awarding a spot kick and Mensing placed his shot low into the bottom corner.

The visitors' best efforts thereafter were snuffed out early by Hamilton's boundlessly-energetic midfielders and the home side held on to secure a deserved victory, their first against Hearts in 30 years.

Hamilton substitutes: Lyle for McGowan 59, Thomas for Offiong 67. Not used: Murdoch, Deuchar, Swailes, Gibson, Gow. Booked: Offiong 62.

Hearts substitutes: Elliot for Neilson 85, Kingston for Aguiar 68, Glen for Nade 80. Not used: Kello, Thomson, Elliot, Mrowiec, Templeton. Booked: Obua 29.

Referee: E Smith Att: 3,567

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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