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John McGarry, 31/01/2009

Scorer: HAMILTON: Mensing (2, 1p)

Check out the action at Hamilton:

VLADIMIR ROMANOV broke cover to attend his first game of the season — and proved he’s lost none of his ability to talk a lot of cobblers.

Speaking before his side were humbled by the SPL newcomers, Mad Vlad confirmed the club ARE trying to punt Andy Driver to Coventry hard on the heels of Christophe Berra's £2.3m switch to Wolves.

Despite openly trying to sell the club’s best assets, the Russian was adamant he isn’t weakening the team by doing so.

The Jambos remain hopeful of bringing in bodies before tomorrow’s deadline, but the whiff of downsizing hangs in the air.

Romanov said: “We have not received a satisfactory offer for Driver but we have been discussing the player with them.

“We were offered a big price for Berra so we took it, otherwise he would have been stolen by someone else later. If it’s right for us there might be more business done. I have spoken with the manager about this.

“We’ve a strong team and are getting stronger. We’re not weakening it. Will we get a replacement for Berra? Possibly.”

Quite why Romanov opted to break his self-imposed exodus at New Douglas Park, only he knows.

Perhaps after hearing that Accies were in a position to resist offers for their stars, he wanted to know how a properly run football club operates.

Now eighth in the table, Hamilton are outsmarting most competitors off the park and yesterday they outplayed Hearts on it.

Alex Neil may have worn the armband but Hamilton had leaders all over the park.

From the defensive rocks of Mark McLaughlin and Martin Canning to the boundless energy of Paul McGowan, James McCarthy and James McArthur, there wasn’t a failure in Billy Reid’s team.

Simon Mensing struck either side of half-time, the second from a penalty, to leave Hamilton’s fans wondering what might be possible this term. Nothing seems beyond them at present.

This was their fifth win on the spin in all competitions and they haven’t lost a goal in that run. Relegation is fast becoming something for others to worry about and boss Reid said: “We started really well.

“The game plan was to stop Hearts playing in the middle of the park and we did that. Over the 90 minutes we deserved it.

“That’s five home wins on the bounce and it’s credit to the players.

“We worked hard to change our formation. I’ve said before that we’re not looking down, we’re looking at the teams above us. Even our best players work so hard.”

In contrast Hearts were rudderless and wanting for inspiration.

Whether or not Berra would have a difference to Hamilton’s opener is debatable but it was the sort of routine situation the now Wolves player sorted out repeatedly for them in the past six months. As Hearts carped about Neil’s hard but fair treatment of Bruno Aguiar on 12 minutes, Brian Easton and McArthur worked a short corner which allowed Easton to bend an inswinger on to the six-yard line.

Mensing only had to stretch his neck to plant a header low beyond Jamie MacDonald.

Hearts tried to reply through Michael Stewart but he struck the upright after gliding on to David Obua’s cross, only for the linesman’s flag to spare his blushes in any event.

Obua was dynamic one minute and downright dire the next.

A poor first touch forced him to pull down Richard Offiong and brought the game’s first yellow card on 29 minutes.

It took until 31 minutes for Accies keeper Tomas Cerny to be called into action and Hamilton were grateful for his alertness. Aguiar pulled the ball down wide left and crossed for Driver only for the Czech to spring from his line and block.

MacDonald did equally well to prevent Paul McGowan scoring from an outrageous angle after skipping away from Lee Wallace.

For all Hearts were poor, they didn’t get much luck either.

Four minutes from the break Obua’s rocket shot cannoned off Easton and seemed certain to dip over the helpless Cerny, only to land on the roof of the net.

If that had dropped in it could have been so different. As it was Hamilton doubled their advantage six minutes after half-time.

New skipper Robbie Neilson made a meal of trying to stop McCarthy and although the Hamilton kid didn’t hit the turf referee Eddie Smith made the right call in awarding a penalty. Mensing drove his spot kicklow and hard to claim his second.

Stewart then saw Cerny keep out his 20-yard strike and that allowed Hamlton to play out the game under no real pressure. Suddenly the heat’s back on poor old Csaba Laszlo.

Hearts were last night talking to a German striker who’s currently playing in Spain and Laszlo remains hopeful a defensive replacement for Berra can be secured.

The Hearts boss said: “I’m happy for Christophe that he’s moved to a bigger league but the timing was bad for the team. But if you have a good offer you can’t handle everything 100 per cent the way you would like.

“That’s the reality but that’s not an excuse for us losing the game.”

HAMILTON: Cerny, McClenahan, Canning, McLaughlin, Neil, Easton, McCarthy, McArthur, Mensing, McGowan (Lyle 59), Offiong (Thomas 67). Subs not used: Murdoch, Deuchar, Swailes, Gibson, Gow.

HEARTS: MacDonald, Neilson (Elliot 83), Karipidis, Jonsson, Lee Wallace, Aguiar (Kingston 66), Stewart, Zaliukas, Driver, Obua, Nade (Glen 80). Subs not used: Kello, Thomson, Mrowiec, Templeton.

News Of The World

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