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|Sat 16 Jan 2010 Hearts 1 St Mirren 0
|Scotsman ------ Report
|Michael Stewart pen 22
Hearts 1-0 St Mirren: Laszlo gets a spot-on response
Published Date: 18 January 2010
It would discredit several Hearts players only to focus on Stewart, who played another captain's role by scoring the decisive penalty kick on 22 minutes. It was his fourth goal in five league outings and his seventh of the season overall. His performance was closely matched by those of Eggert Jonsson, David Templeton, Scott Robinson, Marius Zaliukas and Ruben Palazuelos. Robinson in particular stood out for his boundless energy and drive in a deep-lying forward role.
Not that Hearts had everything their own way. They dominated the first half and were rewarded with a penalty on 22 minutes when Hugh Murray inexplicably handled Palazuelos's cross under no pressure whatsoever. St Mirren emerged from their shell after the interval and the second half evolved into an open and entertaining game. The visitors' problem was they could not play their way through the stubborn Hearts rearguard, and come full-time their shots on target total of zero told its own story.
Indeed, that defiance seemed to gratify Laszlo more than anything. "Most positive is that we came back from what happened at Aberdeen," he said.
"The team was completely down because we lost the tactical discipline we had for five games before. Then I see we can do it. We lost in Aberdeen with two counter attacks.
"We had the ball and gave them the chance. On Saturday, Robinson and Templeton had situations where they had the ball and the opponent overcame them. They must learn from this but I am very happy we won the game. We have more positive issues and we are part of a winning team. This is the way we must go.
"I know 100 per cent you can't just play nice games, it's important to get the three points. Then you believe in what you do during the week.
"The criticism they get during the week from me they can take more constructive if they win on the Saturday.
"The spirit was okay. We had good goal chances but we didn't score and I am a little disappointed about this. In the second half we had a period of 20 minutes where we must score the second goal and then have an easier game. We missed through Obua in the second half, he must score. You can't miss this goal. Three metres from the goal line you only have to push the ball in. Then you have more confidence and you can play easier."
Obua passed up two opportunities during the second half and incurred the wrath of the Tynecastle natives got an underwhelming display on his first start after a month out with injury and illness. His performance was one of few negatives on the day but, to his credit, he seemed determined not to be dispirited.
"We tried to get a second goal, they cut the ball in and I misfired it," said the Ugandan. "The most important thing is we won. Whenever you win 1-0 it's enough for us. The fans always get anxious, we are used to that. You have to get used to them and not listen to it. A lot of them don't see what's going on. I talked to a groundsman and he said these guys have been like this over 30 years and you can't change them now. They're so passionate.
"Sometimes in the stand you can see the game differently. I don't pay attention to it. You hear people yelling but not what they're saying. They want their team to win. The most important was for us to win. I faced the same at Kaizer Chiefs because the fans there are so passionate – they want the team to win home and away."
Although critical, Laszlo was keen to outline positives after a performance which was considerably more cohesive than any of the last few weeks. "Obua came back from three weeks injured and one and a half weeks ill, he played 90 minutes. Jason Thomson was out for five weeks and played 90 minutes. Tempelton must feel the game is different from a reserve game. Also, Scott Robinson tried his best. The success came because we had discipline and we didn't lose any goals. To win 1-0 you must always have discipline, press the opponent and try to score. The opponents had no clear goal chances."
Asked about the prospect of a new signing before the January window closes, the Hungarian responded: "If somebody comes, okay. If somebody doesn't come we try to win the game at Ibrox (next Saturday] 1-0. We have two weeks and if something happens it's okay. I am very positive but I concentrate on the team that is here together with me."
Lee Wallace again missed Saturday's match but Laszlo is convinced he will be available to face Rangers, blaming the wrong boots for his absence. "If I tell you the truth about Lee you tell me this is a joke, but I only tell you the truth. He is injured. He tried to get the right boot but told me he can't play. He will be okay for next week. I will search for a new company, maybe somebody will offer a good contract for Lee to wear the right shoes.
"It's a new puzzle with Eggert and Michael Stewart in midfield and Ruben on the left side. If Lee does not have a new boot I have no problem because Ruben was fantastic at left-back."
Gus MacPherson, the St Mirren manager, cajoled his players throughout the match and willed them forward in search of a second-half equaliser. The size of his grin when the fourth official announced five minutes of stoppage-time hinted that he sensed a goal coming, but ultimately he took only disappointment back to Paisley.
"We've won a couple of games 1-0 and on Saturday we lost 1-0," he said. "It was a very scrappy affair because that's what you're getting at the moment due to the pitches not being in great nick. We made a mistake in a defensive area (at the penalty]. I didn't see a nudge or anything so it was definitely a handball and I've got no complaints.
"Hearts are a good defensive unit and are very difficult to break down. If they get that goal in front they shut up shop.
"They defend well when they get in front and it is frustrating but they defend the width of the goal very well."
Hearts, indeed, are a team moulded in Csaba Laszlo's own image.
Taken from the Scotsman
|Sat 16 Jan 2010 Hearts 1 St Mirren 0