London Hearts Supporters Club

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Joe Jordan <-auth James Traynor auth-> DFT Syme
1 of 001 Scott Crabbe 1 L Premier H

Hearts hand out an early warning


19 Aug 1991

THE days leading up to Rangers' trip through to Festival City were so dramatic -- Woods away, McCall in, and Steven off for £5m -- that the match at Tynecastle always was going to be something of an anti-climax.

But the Ibrox club did not expect they would leave the place empty-handed.

Rangers went away feeling sorry for themselves and bemoaning the injustice of it all.

They felt their second-half performance was worth at least a point, although the truth is they could have been three goals down by the interval instead of only one.

Hearts were .



well, Hearts really.

They were tenacious.

Their tackles had bite, and they never stopped running and backing up one another.

Their splendid endeavour and their single goal, scored after only 90 seconds or so by Scott Crabbe, were just enough to secure both points, and they probably just deserved to win.

By doing so, they proved that Rangers remain vulnerable, despite the list of impressive names on their register of employees.

There is no doubt at all that Walter Smith has assembled the most powerful squad of players in the premier division, even though Trevor Steven, the best of them all, has gone, but there will be days when below par performances and misfortune undermine the team's real strength.

If the opposition can be bold and positive, as Hearts were on Saturday, then it is possible to beat Rangers.

Hearts' manager Joe Jordan highlighted this point after the match when he said that the answer to the problem of playing the champions is to try to win the match.

"I don't think teams should sit back against Rangers, because they have so many options," he added.

"We have shown that Rangers are not going to run away with the league."

However, they were helped greatly by a goalkeeper's aberration.

It is unlikely Andy Goram again will make an error as dreadful as the one which allowed Crabbe his moment of glory.

Tosh McKinlay knocked a decent ball from the right into the middle, where John Robertson flicked on to Crabbe, who was side on to the goal and a fair way out.

He hooked a volley towards the sticks, and as the ball looped high, Goram, obviously thinking his net was not in danger, made no attempt to move.

The look of horror on his face as the ball dropped gently under his bar and into the net said it all.

It was an embarrassing return to Edinburgh for the keeper brought to Ibrox to take over from Chris Woods.

It would have done his damaged ego no good either when he learned later that Andy Roxburgh, the Scottish manager, who will announce a squad in two weeks' time for the European Championship match against Switzerland, witnessed the blunder from the stand.

Goram recovered quickly from his lapse and played well enough, making several fine saves, but the damage done early in the match proved irreparable.

Mark Hateley had one or two opportunities, the kind which he would normally put away with his eyes shut, but the ball was not running for Rangers in front of goal, and they had the added problem of keeper Henry Smith, who had an excellent match.

They also were thwarted in the midfield by Derek Ferguson, who stood out as the best player in that particular area.

When the former Rangers player feels like it, he looks the part, but there is a down side to his better performances also.

Watching him waltz away from players and knock the ball sometimes causes a sadness because he is a player who has abused a gift.

Ferguson has great talent and had he been more committed to his work, he would have been a regular in the Scottish international team by now.

He has wasted so much time, but there are signs now that he finally may have decided to become serious.

If this proves to be the case, then the entire Scottish game will benefit, as well as Hearts, who looked comfortable with their three-man central defence of Davie McPherson sweeping behind McKinlay and Alan McLaren.

Craig Levein, who was suspended, has still to come back, and Jordan said that he is close to striking a £200,000 a deal which will bring Portsmouth's central defender Graeme Hogg to Tynecastle.

The manager stressed this does not mean he will be selling a defender, and pointed out: "The idea is to strengthen the squad."

Smith, the Rangers manager, didn't say too much after the match, but it can be assumed he spoke enough in the dressing room, and even may continue the dialogue when the players clock on this morning.

Suffice to say he looked like someone who had just sat through some of the mince on offer as part of the the Fringe.

He was not a happy man, and probably phoned ahead to tell his family he was on his way home, and the remainder of the evening was cancelled.

It was not a pleasant debut for Stuart McCall, but he did enough to suggest he could be a key player for Rangers in the months ahead.

He is the kind of midfield player who makes tackles and is always looking for the ball.

His vision isn't too bad either.

Taken from the Herald

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