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<-Page <-Team Sun 31 Oct 2010 Hearts 0 Kilmarnock 3 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Steve O'Reilly
[F Wright 45] ;[C Sammon 80] ;[A Eremenko 82]
6 of 008 -----L SPL H

Kilmarnock shrug aside lowly league position with well-deserved win

Published Date: 01 November 2010
Hearts 0

Kilmarnock 3

Wright (45), Sammon (80), Eremenko (82)

CLUBS which hang around the bottom of the table for too long can come to look like some hapless deep-sea diver, leaden-footed and with little prospect of surfacing any time soon. If Kilmarnock were beginning to take on such an appearance after three successive defeats, they shrugged it off decisively yesterday with a buoyant and accomplished performance against a Hearts side who under-performed in almost every department of the game.

Jim Jefferies' team had the incentive of knowing victory would lift them to third in the table, but are now fifth, ahead of Dundee United on goal difference. Kilmarnock have jumped three places to ninth as a result of this, their biggest away win in five years, and in an indication of how tight the SPL is below the Old Firm, they are now just four points behind the team they beat yesterday.

It was a comprehensive victory in the end, but one ensured only after a period of Hearts pressure. Having gone behind on the stroke of half-time, the home team played their best football in the opening quarter of an hour or so of the second period, and came close to equalising on several occasions. As they pushed up in search of that leveller, however, they left space at the back, and were made to pay late on by two strikes on the counter-attack.

Jefferies had warned Hearts prior to this encounter that they would have to battle, and there was no sign of complacency in the way they went about their business - but there was little sign of creativity either.

Rudi Skacel, the hat-trick hero against St Mirren eight days earlier, had a quiet afternoon, as did his fellow-midfielder Eggert Jonsson. Adrian Mrowiec was a more conspicuous figure in the centre of the park, but more often than not because he was bustling around striving to snuff out Kilmarnock attacks rather than initiating anything positive for his own side.

Hearts seemed to have more of the ball in the first half than their visitors, but made a lot less use of it, coming closest to scoring when Ruben Palazuelos shot past from a Skacel cutback. Kilmarnock, conversely, were more economical in possession, and played with a confidence which is rare for a team in their lowly situation.

All the same, they too found clear-cut chances hard to come by - until, that is, in stoppage time, when they were awarded a free-kick midway inside the Hearts half on the right flank.

Jamie Hamill curled his delivery into the box, and, as his marker Kevin Kyle slipped and fell, Frazer Wright ran on to bullet a header past the stranded Marian Kello and into the net.

Conventional wisdom has it that just before the interval is a bad time to lose a goal, but at least it galvanised Hearts into playing far better once the break was out of the way. The substitution of Craig Thomson at right-back for Darren Barr gave them more mobility, as well as greater support for Suso Santana, and the tempo of the team as a whole benefited from Thomson's introduction.

Yet, for all the pressure they enjoyed, Hearts were generally restricted to long-range efforts on goal. A 25-yarder from Skacel went straight to Cammie Bell, and the goalkeeper dealt just as well with a Mrowiec shot from somewhat further out.

In between those attempts the home team had a penalty claim when Suso played the ball against Ben Gordon, but the hand-ball did not look deliberate and referee Stevie O'Reilly waved play on.

Hearts gained some much-needed width on the left when David Templeton came on with half an hour to play, but the winger, like so many of his team-mates, was below his best.

His most effective moment was a cross into the box which produced a difficult chance for Suso, who volleyed over. Striker Kevin Kyle was less effective in general against his old club than he has been in previous weeks, but he did provoke havoc when he knocked on a ball into the box which was eventually scrambled clear with Bell stranded.

At the other end, a free header which Mahamadou Sissoko sent over the bar was a warning that Kilmarnock remained a threat. Minutes later, that threat was realised when substitute Conor Sammon latched on to a ball down the right channel, drew Kello out of his goal, and slotted home.

That was the game as good as won, but two minutes later the outstanding Alexei Eremenko made sure with a 25-yard shot which curled out of Kello's reach and into the corner of the net.

Hearts: Kello, Jonsson, Bouzid, Zaliukas, Barr (Craig Thomson 46), Santana, Palazuelos, Mrowiec (Templeton 62), Skacel, Kyle, Elliot (Elliott 46). Subs not used: MacDonald, Black, Stevenson, Glen.

Kilmarnock: Bell, Hamill, Wright, Sissoko, Gordon, Kelly (Clancy 86), Pascali, Bryson, Taouil (Hay 58), Eremenko, Rui Miguel (Sammon 38). Subs not used: Letheren, Invincibile, Silva, Forrester.


Alexei Eremenko (Kilmarnock)

The Finnish international looked a cut above everyone else on the pitch when it came to awareness and creativity, and rounded off an excellent display with a finely taken goal.

Referee: S O'Reilly

Attendance: 13,056

Taken from the Scotsman

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