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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Brian Winter
[J Daly 38]
1 of 010 -----L SPL H

First-half header marks Hearts' fate

Published Date: 31 July 2011
JON DALY'S first-half header consigned Hearts to a home defeat in their second SPL match of the season with majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov watching from the directors' box.
The Tynecastle side could not follow up their encouraging midweek Europa League result with domestic victory despite concerted pressure on the visitors' goal during the second half.

Chances were passed up by John Sutton and Stephen Elliott, United's Dusan Pernis produced a fine stop to deny David Templeton in the second half and substitute Ryan Stevenson's effort from the tightest of angles was scrambled clear in the dying seconds. Daly's header from a corner on 37 minutes ultimately proved decisive, although Hearts will likely conduct inquests into why the forward rose unmarked to convert Willo Flood's corner.

As United celebrated at full-time, Hearts were left to turn their attentions to Thursday night's Europa League third qualifying round return match with Paksi SE. Although they would have rightly wondered how they failed to score in their first home game of the new campaign having enjoyed so much of the ball.

Romanov took his seat in the VIP area prior to kick-off as it became clear David Goodwillie was not part of United's squad. Hearts supporters were encouraged by the sight of fit-again Rudi Skacel on the substitutes' bench. Hope was that he would agree a contract extension with Romanov after the match.

Hearts' energy during the opening period was notable but United's first attack on 15 minutes saw them strike the goal frame. Adrian Mrowiec fouled John Rankin on the edge of the penalty area and Rankin drove the set-piece powerfully against Marian Kello's crossbar with the Slovakian beaten.

That seemed to prompt the hosts into action. Danny Grainger supplied a low cross and Elliott's first-time shot was parried by Pernis. The full-back then issued another delivery which Sutton slid in to connect with, only for the ball to bounce wide of Pernis' left post. The lack of a finishing touch was to prove costly.

United began pressing forward in search of a breakthrough and would have succeeded just on the 37-minute mark but for the breathtaking reactions of Kello. Paul Dixon hurled a left-sided cross to the back post area which Daly struck first-time. Kello pushed the shot wide but was powerless seconds later when Daly met Flood's corner unchallenged to head the opening goal. After such a heroic save, the Slovakian was entitled to feel let down by the static defending in front of him.

Elliott passed up a fine chance to equalise just three minutes later. Eggert Jonsson's driven ball into the penalty box was controlled expertly by the Irishman on the turn 12 yards from goal, but his second touch was a left-foot shot which rolled harmlessly wide of target.

The second half began with Hearts forcing their way forward, although clear chances remained at a premium due to United's resilient midfield and back line. The visitors were content to hit on the break through their pace on both flanks, and Kello was required to hold attempts from Scott Allan and Garry Kenneth. When Johnny Russell turned to send a low left-footed shot inches wide, Hearts appeared to be tiring following their midweek European exertions.

Templeton came desperately close to an equaliser with an impromptu touch and shot following Sutton's headed flick. The winger's effort was raging towards the roof of the net from 20 yards out until Pernis arrived to push it over the crossbar.

Four minutes of stoppage time were added at the end by referee Brian Winter, but that wasn't sufficient for the hosts to find an equaliser as United held firm.

Hearts (4-4-2): Kello; McGowan, Jonsson, Zaliukas, Grainger; Black, Mrowiec (Skacel 70), Obua, Templeton; S Elliott (Novikovas 70), Sutton (Stevenson 77). Subs: MacDonald, Barr, G Smith, Robinson.

Dundee United (4-3-2-1): Pernis; Watson, Dillon, Kenneth, Dixon; Flood, Severin (Robertson 76), Rankin; Allan (Douglas 83), Daly; Russell. Subs: Banks, Armstrong, Mackay-Steven, Dow, Hilson.

Referee: Brian Winter.

Attendance: 13,821.

Taken from the Scotsman

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