London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Anatoly Korobochka <-auth Moira Gordon auth-> Steve Conroy
Kingston Laryea [S Lovell 7]
1 of 012 ----- L SPL A

Kingston off after calling ref a racist


Lovell 8

LARYEA Kingston kissed his shirt as he was sent off but it may also have been the moment that Hearts kissed goodbye to guaranteed European football next season. Hearts didn't just lose to one of their main rivals for that honour, they also lost the plot.

Kingston was sent off in the 63rd minute for his second bookable offence, but then made matters worse, gesturing to home fans and reacting to the red card by playing the race one and branding referee Steve Conroy a racist. But the accusation was undermined by the fact that the official's wife is black and, with other Hearts players allegedly hearing the slur but nothing to merit it, it is unlikely the club will contest the second red card dished out when the Ghanaian was called into the referee's room post-match. That's not to say the Edinburgh side were happy with the way the game was handled. They were aggrieved at the imbalance of six yellow cards and two reds for them while Aberdeen navigated the entire 90 minutes without a single caution.

Captain Craig Gordon spent several minutes remonstrating with the referee at the final whistle, and although he said the sending off was "one of hundreds" of grievances aired, he interestingly added that "you could argue that you could see his point of view. It maybe was accidental but he did go in fairly high so that wasn't something that I was angry about an awful lot."

Gordon's anger was undoubtedly born of frustration at his own side's inadequacies as, even before the sending off, Hearts still failed to carve out any really clear-cut scoring opportunities. Gordon admitted that on current form last season's runners-up are unlikely to repeat the feat and even face struggle to clinch third but he is refusing to give up.

But this 90 minutes of action mean that Aberdeen are a lot more positive. These three points mean that, should Walter Smith's charges lose to Celtic this afternoon, the Pittodrie side could leapfrog them into second place with a win at Ibrox on Saturday. Jimmy Calderwood's men are currently in third place, four points behind Rangers, but with a game against Motherwell in hand to be played on Tuesday.

This was still not as comfortable as it might have been for Aberdeen, given their domination, but it was a timely display of sturdiness in defence and, with Scotland manager Alex McLeish, who was in the stand yesterday, due to name his squad for the Georgia match this week, if Russell Anderson is not considered as a starter on this evidence, it will be an injustice.

With both teams locked on 48 points before the match and with the Tynecastle having enjoyed an unbeaten league run in recent weeks, it was an impressive showing from the home side, who looked relaxed after their early breakthrough and had the beating of Hearts in every other area of the pitch on the day.

Other than against Celtic, Hearts have only lost once since Christmas - albeit to Aberdeen at Tynecastle - but they travelled north with only four survivors (Craig Gordon, Christophe Berra, Marius Zaliukas and Lee Wallace) from the side which defeated Jimmy Calderwood's men in September.

The home side struck in the eighth minute as a quick pass down the right flank from Barry Nicholson played in Steve Lovell and the striker lashed a drive past Gordon.

It was the same striker who had scored the only goal of the match the last time they met in December, but then it was a last-gasp effort. This time he hit Hearts with an early blow they couldn't recover from.

Even Calderwood suggested the calibre of the Hearts side had been diluted and, while Craig Gordon later said the challenge was now for those still at the club to prove that is not the case, in the two most recent games Aberdeen have been superior.

In contrast to their guests, Aberdeen have moved into European contention thanks to a much steadier approach to team selection this season and showed only three changes from that September head-to head, with Craig Brewster getting his first start since returning from his dislocated shoulder and in for Darren Mackie, who was suffering from tonsillitis. Gary Dempsey and Lee Miller were the other changes, settling for a place on the bench, with Jamie Smith and Steve Lovell favoured.

The brighter start was just what will have been demanded by Calderwood, who had been critical of his team's performance a week earlier, despite the fact they had still collected all three points from that trip to Falkirk Stadium, and he was happy with the reaction he received. While Hearts made inroads towards Jamie Langfield's goal on the odd occasion in the first half, the second half was a siege situation, even before Kingston was dispatched.

Hearts assistant manager Steve Frail admitted that, given the poor defending at the goal and lack of chances they managed to carve out, they maybe should be pointing the finger at themselves. "That was the most disappointing thing," he said of the lack of goal-scoring chances. "We could talk about bookings but that's the most disappointing thing, that and our defending. To manage just one or two chances in the whole 90 minutes isn't good enough."

In truth, the openings they did create were little more than half-chances, although they could have nicked an equaliser in the dying minutes. Into time added on, substitute Edgaras Jankauskas played in follow sub Christos Karipidis but, although Langfield spilled the ball in the six-yard box, he was still able to get to grips with it before anyone in a Hearts shirt.

"We should be looking to create more and pass better and put more pressure on them," added Frail.

Now the pressure being applied is on Rangers. Aberdeen are getting up a head of steam.

Taken from the Scotsman

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