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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth auth-> Brian Winter
[S Thomson 38] ;[C Dargo 63]
6 of 006 Jose Goncalves 31L SPL A

Jambos miss chance to climb table

Published Date: 05 October 2009
PASSING up such an obvious opportunity for three points is distinctly unlike Hearts. Perhaps that contributed to Csaba Laszlo's post-match ire after a game which was theirs for the taking somehow slipped from their grasp.
This was a missed chance in more ways than one. With city rivals Hibernian drawing at home to Dundee United and the Old Firm not in action for 24 hours, the incentive to climb the SPL table and end an unwanted winless sequence away from Tynecastle was clear. Had Suso converted after rounding goalkeeper Paul Gallacher seconds after Jose Goncalves opened the scoring, the match would have assumed an entirely different complexion. A 2-0 lead would have consolidated Hearts' authority – they enjoyed total control at that point and were attacking at will – and almost certainly have seen them proceed to a first away win in 11 attempts. That they didn't infuriated their manager.

Suso was not the only guilty party, for David Witteveen might have shown greater conviction with several first-half opportunities.

Craig Thomson arced a corner towards the six-yard area and Goncalves rose to open the scoring on 29 minutes, prompting familiar chants of "Jose" from travelling supporters who previously idolised his namesake Quitongo.

A minute later, Suso intercepted Lee Mair's woeful backpass, evaded Gallacher and had only to roll the ball into a gaping net. As he delayed, defender after defender arrived and the Spaniard's eventual shot was deflected before being clawed off the goal line by the recovering Gallacher.

St Mirren created precious few openings throughout the afternoon but equalised seven minutes before the interval. Stephen McGinn's ball across the face of goal was bizarrely mishit by Andy Dorman at the back post but fell kindly for Steven Thomson to dispatch his club's first goal in 274 minutes of football.

Witteveen's impish backheeled attempt and his header from Michael Stewart's cross both trundled wide before half-time. Nonetheless, there was no question that Suso's dalliance in front of goal proved pivotal. St Mirren had equalised against the balance of play but Thomson's strike seemed to stifle Hearts, who emerged in subdued fashion after the interval.

Suso, the game's outstanding figure in the first 45 minutes, suddenly became anonymous. He bizarrely positioned himself alongside Witteveen, almost as a second centre-forward instead of an attacking central midfield player in front of holders Michael Stewart and Ruben Palazuelos. He had done all his running and probing from deep to excellent effect in the first half but there was little energy expended in the second.

His poor positioning left a gaping hole which allowed St Mirren to stream forward. When Craig Dargo spun and executed a mesmerising volley to win the game, it was reward for St Mirren's persistence. They hadn't much craft but never relinquished hope of earning a first league win at New St Mirren Park.

Hearts, so often the masters of scratching a result from nothing under Laszlo, seemed to have the points in their pockets but, uncharacteristically, let their guard down. The manager could only bemoan the first-half profligacy and admitted it drove him "crazy".

"Think how many chances we created and how many times we could have put the ball in the net. You become crazy," he remarked. "We play for our club and the supporters, we have responsibility. If the opponent is better and they beat you, this is okay and maybe I must then look to have better players in some positions. But you must have self responsibility on the field, against the kit man, against the club, the supporters, everybody.

"I don't attack anybody, I always keep my hands over my team. But I am completely angry about not using chances. We are not in training. Always to say 'sorry' is not enough. You must score sometimes.

"This game was very easy to win and some players don't understand what we work for all the time. At the moment we must talk about professional football and responsibility.

"If you go on the field the most important is to score and not give a chance for the opponent to score. In the first half we lost the game. I am very unhappy with some players, we will resolve this internally.

"We could have scored two or three goals in the first 20 minutes and say thank you very much. If you play with your chance and you think it will be easy, this is not true and then you lose the game. The opponent did not have the best day but they have the three points. To tell we were the better team and played good football, this is for nothing.

"Against Celtic it was terrible, now against St Mirren. I think it can happen once but every away game you play good football, score goals, everything in your hand and after you come out and you search for excuses. Don't talk about referees, this is not okay. I come to training every day to work with this team and be better. I would like to see them score goals."

The notion of getting out of jail was not lost on St Mirren manager Gus MacPherson. His side mustered a second-half desire which Hearts could not equal and used it to lift the proverbial monkey from their backs in their new surroundings, capped by Dargo's impromptu winner. But MacPherson was honest enough to concede that the visitors should have been out of sight by then.

"The players were more focused (after half-time]," he said. "We should have been 2-0 behind but that probably galvanised them. They realised they could still get something out of the game. There was a nervousness and a great relief for the supporters. We need to progress and get results to go up the league now because our travelling fans must scratch their heads when they see us away from home. It's like a different team.

"We kept on trying to spin it and be as positive as we could about not winning at home, but the players were certainly thinking about it. We always had belief that we could win games. Dargo's was a goal fit to win any game, that's the easy way to describe it. It was great technique, we know he's capable of that. His scoring record is good but we don't create that many chances for him. This season he's strong, sharp and crabit as ever when he's not involved. We want that because it shows he is hungry."

Dargo modestly played down his volley after substitute Tom Brighton teed him up. "It's a good three points, that's the most important thing. It's been coming, a lot has been made about us not having a first win so it's pleasing to get it. The goal was simple. It came down, I hit it and luckily it flew right in. The goal's a bonus, it's about three points and we want to build on it now."

Hearts lost David Witteveen with a gashed leg following a full-force tackle with St Mirren substitute Chris Innes, but club officials do not believe he will require hospital treatment. Laszlo replaced Suso with Christian Nade in the 68th minute in an attempt to salvage something from the afternoon. The Spaniard had become little more than a bystander despite his rampaging first-half performance, but the decision prompted jeers from the 1,100 travelling fans. Whether this was because Suso was departing, or Nade entering, was unclear.

Obua passed up a couple of half chances during the closing stages, adding more fuel to the fire burning within Laszlo. Make no mistake, creating chances comes pretty naturally to this Hearts team. The finishing touch, however, remains a perennial concern.

Taken from the Scotsman

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