Hearts' fighting spirit makes the difference
18 Dec 1995
Aberdeen 1, Hearts 2
ABERDEEN and Hearts provided their supporters with an entertaining last match before Christmas, but the result was not what the home fans expected after a dream start.
New Dons' signing Dean Windass scored his first goal for the club in the dying seconds of their midweek game against Kilmarnock.
With just 45 seconds gone on Saturday, he was in the right place to tap in a low cross from Billy Dodds after Duncan Shearer missed it.
The early blow did nothing to douse the spirit of the Hearts players, and although they won 10 corners in the first half, Aberdeen appeared in control, playing smooth, flowing football.
Stephen Glass hit a post with a 35-yard drive, and keeper Gilles Rousset stopped a Shearer header.
Aberdeen just could not get a second past the Hearts defence, marshalled well by Pasquale Bruno.
Just 20 seconds after the break, it should have been settled when Rousset failed to hold a Shearer shot and Dodds missed from three yards.
Hearts then began to dominate and the Aberdeen threat faded.
The turning point came when John Colquhoun replaced tall Swede, Hans Eskilsson, in 78 minutes.
Almost immediately, he linked with Alan Johnston to set him up with the equaliser Hearts deserved for their efforts.
Two minutes later, as Aberdeen's defence panicked under pressure, Colquhoun forced his way through to pick up the loose ball and fire home a 12-yard shot.
"This game is all about scoring and defending, and we didn't score the goals we should have with the chances we had.
Also, we did not defend well enough in the last 15 minutes," Aberdeen manager Roy Aitken said.
"We dominated large parts of the game, but did not finish off the opposition when we had the opportunities.
If you do that, you are going to be vulnerable to sucker punches." Hearts captain Gary Mackay said the fighting spirit they showed had been instilled by the manager.
"We knew before the game the best way to defend at Pittodrie is to have a go at Aberdeen, and it was nice to get the pay-off." He also praised the large travelling support for the encouragement they gave the team, not just when they equalised but for most of the game when they were behind.
Manager Jim Jefferies was delighted with the best away performance of the season.
"The only good thing about losing a goal in the first minute is that you have 89 minutes to come back.
The players' response was great, and they closed Aberdeen down well in the middle of the park.
"I don't think Eoin Jess got into the game in the first half.
"When you consider the experienced players who are out, and how well those who came in performed, it augurs well for competition for places which is good for Hearts.
"I thought we thoroughly deserved our win." He added that he was particularly pleased that they did not lose their composure when Eskilsson was denied a reasonable penalty claim in the fiftieth minute.
"They didn't let it upset them and just kept on playing.
We eventually took Eskilsson off as a change of tactic, to get the ball on the ground played in to the feet of Robertson and Colquhoun, and it worked a treat for us.
"There is a tremendous spirit about the club.
We have been trying to impress the importance of that since I came to Tynecastle."
Taken from the Herald