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21 of 039 ----- L SPL A

Hamilton and Hearts show different attitudes to star players

Hamilton Academical 2 Heart of Midlothian 0
Barry Johnston at New Douglas Park

It’s a familiar tale at Heart of Midlothian. With a backdrop of uncertainty and financial insecurity off the park, one or two outstanding individuals emerge on the field, resilient and committed in the face of the malaise around them... Then they are promptly sold.

Christophe Berra is the latest example and, by 5pm this evening, he could be followed by Andrew Driver. The former was sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers in a £2.5 million deal on the eve of this defeat by Hamilton Academical, while the latter could become a Coventry City player if the Coca-Cola Championship club can muster the required fee.

Robbie Neilson, who captained Hearts at New Douglas Park in Berra’s absence, has seen it all before. He has quietly gone about his business as Vladimir Romanov, the owner – who attended his first game of the season on Saturday – has cashed in on key personnel such as Craig Gordon, Rudi Skacel, Paul Hartley, Roman Bednar and Andrius Velicka. He accepts the news simply as the reality of his club’s circumstances.

“I’m delighted for Christophe, even though he’s a big loss for the team,” Neilson said. “It’s the way it’s been at the club for the past few years. Chris started playing regularly when Steven Pressley left, while guys like Paul Hartley and Craig Gordon, who were also massive for us, have moved on for fees as well. But we have a lot of good players here, we will move on and, hopefully, the manager can bring in another player or two before the transfer window closes. The fact is, we are not an English Premier League club; we aren’t in a position where we can reject offers for our best players.”

Hamilton are not an English Premier League club, either, yet, in stark contrast to their most recent visitors, the diminutive, but the well-run Lanarkshire club have managed to resist the temptation to liquidise their prized assets and reaped the fruit of their stubbornness with their first victory over Hearts in three decades, courtesy of two goals by Simon Mensing.

The star performers for Hamilton – Brian Easton, James McArthur and James McCarthy – have been attracting much interest during this transfer window. Crucially, however, Ronnie McDonald, the chairman, has made his stance clear. Barring a too-good-to-refuse offer, Hamilton will not sell.

Instead, Billy Reid’s side – who clinched their fifth successive win and clean sheet on Saturday – will continue to climb further from the relegation zone, and will develop their young prospects further, to the stage where serious money will be required to snatch them: a brave policy and one Romanov might take note of.

Hamilton Academical (4-3-2-1): T Cerny 7 – T McLenehan 7, M Canning 6, M McLaughlin 7, B Easton 8 – A Neil 8, S Mensing 8, J McArthur 7 – P McGowan 7 (sub: D Lyle, 59min 6), J McCarthy 9 – R Offiong 6 (sub: J Thomas, 67 5). Substitutes not used: S Murdoch, K Deuchar, C Swailes, J Gibson, G Gow. Booked: Offiong.

Heart of Midlothian(4-5-1): J MacDonald 6 – R Neilson 5 (sub: C Elliot, 85), C Karapidis 6, M Zaliukas 6, L Wallace 7 – D Obua 6, E Jonsson 5, M Stewart 6, B Aguiar 6 (sub: L Kingston, 68 5), A Driver 4 – C Nade 5 (sub: G Glen, 80). Substitutes not used: M Kello, J Thomson, A Mrowiec, D Templeton. Booked: Obua.

Referee E Smith. Attendance 3,567

Taken from

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