London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 25 Oct 2003 Partick Thistle 1 Hearts 4 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Craig Levein <-auth Gary Sutherland auth-> Willie Young
[R Waddell 63]
1 of 005 Andy Kirk 13 ;Mark de Vries 27 ;Andy Kirk 30 ;Stephen Simmons 74 L SPL A

Hearts mount a backlash to shock Thistle


PARTICK 1 Waddell 63
HEARTS 4 Kirk 13, 30; De Vries 27; Simmons 75

AS A confidence trick it is a pretty good one. Suffer at the hands of Celtic and pick yourselves off the ground against bottom club Partick Thistle.

Hearts created an unassailable three goal lead within half an hour as Thistle struggled terribly, rallied briefly, but departed on the wrong end of a one-sided contest possessed of the depressing knowledge that after ten league games they have a paltry two points in their swag bag.

Happiest of all probably was Andy Kirk, the Hearts striker making his first start of the season and celebrating the occasion by taking two of Hearts’ goals to himself. Kirk’s Tynecastle contract is up at the end of the season, so he did his best here to remind his manager of his worth.

Craig Levein made five changes from the Hearts side that had capitulated so meekly to Celtic in Glasgow last weekend, keeper Craig Gordon, Andy Kirk, Robbie Nielsen, Kevin McKenna, Paul Hartley and Kirk, all favoured for this trip to Firhill.

Having been so badly bludgeoned by the Premierleague leaders, this always looked like a potential recovery fixture for Hearts. Their form may have dipped considerably recently, with only one win in five matches, but that was still ahead of Thistle, who have failed to record a victory so far this season.

Partick chairman Tom Hughes this week gave his public backing to manager Gerry Collins and some of the defeats that have been inflicted on Thistle have been by the narrowest of margins. But after half an hour of this game narrow was not the appropriate word to be applied on this occasion.

After 10 league games, Thistle have a paltry two points in the bag

Hearts had this contest wrapped up within a third of the match unfolding. Kirk was first on the scoresheet in 13 minutes as Hearts took the direct approach. Gordon’s long kick-out was knocked down by Mark de Vries and Kirk was on hand to sweep the ball low past the helpless Kenny Arthur.

It was De Vries himself who put Hearts two ahead, though Paul Hartley can take credit for locating De Vries with a precise centre. The Dutchman had time to drill his sweet angled drive over the line.

If things really do come in threes it was not particularly welcome for the now very much beleaguered hosts as Hearts extended their lead further from a corner kick. Hartley sent the ball in, McKenna got a touch and it was left for Kirk to sweep it home for his second of what was already proving to be a most productive afternoon.

Downbeat Thistle were finding it difficult to change anything about the worryingly one-way traffic and Collins was forced to make a change in personnel towards the end of the first-half when the injured Andy Thomson was replaced by striker Gerry Britton.

Steven Pressley was carded by referee Willie Young for a rough tackle on Jamie Mitchell, but it was the rough ride that Partick had faced as a team that lingered during the interval.

Manager Collins said in his programme notes that it was "ridiculous" that the whole country and the bookmakers have Thistle marked for relegation already. With every passing week it becomes harder to envision any other team finishing bottom of the division.

Soon after the restart Collins exhausted his substitution options by bringing on Emmanuel Panther and Ricky Waddell. Both were moments later involved in a Thistle attack that ended in bizarre circumstances and also summed up the paucity of their display.

Panther did well to get his threatening centre in from the right flank as Partick broke at pace, but what occurred was either comical or dispiriting, depending on how much mediocrity you can take.

Not one but two Thistle players got there but, instead of one of them sweeping the ball into the Hearts net, Waddell and David Rowson merely collided with each other. If they hadn’t been in the same team, Thistle might have had a penalty.

Then something went right for poor Partick. They hauled a goal back, sub Waddell pouncing on a half-clearance from the Hearts defence and striking a beautiful half volley from 20 yards on the angle, Gordon left with no chance as the ball struck the top corner of the Hearts net. Now if Thistle could score again ... sustainable interest would be revived in this contest.

The home team were by this stage playing markedly better, while Hearts seemed to fade, but the visitors still retained their threat because Thistle had not really improved the low standard of their defending. This eventually cost them dear when, after some confusion, the ball broke from Kirk and Hearts substitute Stephen Simmons ensured the ball ended in the Partick net. The young midfielder was surrounded by defenders in red and yellow shirts, but none of them could effect the clearance.

Taken from the Scotsman

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