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<-Page <-Team Sun 07 Nov 2004 Aberdeen 0 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Daily Record ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Gary Ralston auth-> Stuart Dougal
----- Kevin Paul McNaughton
8 of 012 Paul Hartley pen 60 L SPL A


Aberdeen 0 Hearts 1 McNaughton red card gives Robbo winning league start as Hearts boss;

By Gary Ralston

JOHN ROBERTSON turned up at his former lodgings yesterday and made off with three points after a stand-up row between the landlord and ref Stuart Dougal.

RobboÕs first league game as Hearts boss ended in a controversial victory at Pittodrie as his side continue to hold the Indian sign over Aberdeen.

The Jambos have now gone 11 games without defeat against the Dons and Jimmy CalderwoodÕs side have not scored against the Gorgie boys in 737 minutes of match action.

Hearts climbed to third after a battling performance in a game that lived up to the oft- quoted SPL maxim that familiarity breeds contempt.

There was only one talking point covering several chaotic minutes in an otherwise drab encounter but it provided enough discussion to last between now and the end of the season.


Ultimately, the final word belonged to Hearts, inspired by man of the match Paul Hartley, because they wanted a win most.

Aberdeen, who were reduced to 10 men for the last 30 minutes, can cling to some sense of injustice over the decision that led to the only goal of the game after an hour, a penalty expertly converted by Hartley.

They had a case to argue that a Russell Anderson challenge on Ramon Pereira should have resulted in a goal kick, not a corner.

They also insisted afterwards, again with some justification, that Robbie NeilsonÕs header from McAllisterÕs set- piece was over the line before it was handled by Kevin McNaughton.

But they can have no complaints at failing to hold on to the third spot they occupied going into the game as they couldnÕt even muster a shot to trouble Craig Gordon over 90 lacklustre minutes and didnÕt begin to look threatening until they went a man down.

It looked to be heading in the direction of a goalless draw when ref Dougal and his South Stand linesman ruled, wrongly it appeared, that a clash of ball and bodies between Pereira and Dons skipper Anderson should result in a corner.

The first set-piece from the right by Jamie McAllister was delivered short to Alan Maybury who brought out a wonderful fingertip stop from David Preece, his first call to action in the match.

The resulting corner, again delivered by McAllister, was met at the back post by Neilson, who powered a header goalbound from four yards.

The ball was blocked en route to the net and Dougal reached for the red card, ruling Dons defender McNaughton had deliberately blocked the effort with a hand.

Pereira, meanwhile, had rushed over the to the South Stand and had to be hauled away from the linesman by a team- mate as he argued NeilsonÕs original effort was well over the line.

He was booked for his protests and when calm was restored Hartley, who has taken over spot-kick duty from missfiring Steven Pressley, expertly converted low inside the keeperÕs right-hand post.

Robbo bemoaned his luck when he was here three weeks ago against the Dons with Inverness Caley Thistle but his side enjoyed good fortune this time and only the home fans in the crowd of 13,055 would have denied it to them, no matter how controversial the circumstances.

Aberdeen were boosted by the return of two top-team regulars.

Keeper Preece was fit again after the clattering in the ribs he sustained in a challenge with Celtic star Bobo Balde at Parkhead a fortnight ago.


Central defender Zander Diamond was also back for the first time in almost two months after a knee injury.

Striker Noel Whelan, who has already fallen foul with Jimmy Calderwood for missing training, was also given his first start in almost three months.

Hearts were minus Mark de Vries but fit-again Phil Stamp, who has been suffering a stomach bug, was available and took the place of Joe Hamill in midfield.

Only a couple of last-gasp defensive clearances stopped Hearts from going in front.

A long pass from Pressley skimmed off the head of Anderson under pressure from Kevin McKenna and into the path of Hartley but just as the midfielder prepared to pounce, Phil McGuire slid in to clear the danger.

The resulting corner eventually fell to Alan Maybury on the left who raced to the touchline and pulled back a low cross for Stamp but his goalbound flick from six yards was blocked by Diamond.

Hartley went close again moments later, this time from a free-kick at the edge of the box after Patrick Kisnorbo had been fouled by former team- mate Scott Severin but his right-foot effort kissed the outside of the left-hand post.

That provoked a response from the Dons and Robbie Nielson blocked a shot inside the box from Chris Clark after Severin and Whelan combined to find space down the right.

Then Steve Tosh went close with a shot that flew a foot wide of Craig GordonÕs right-hand post.

Stamp tried his luck from range 10 minutes but Preece ushered his effort past his left-hand post before McKenna blazed an effort over the top from the edge of the box.

Dougal booked Phil Stamp for persistent fouling soon after the re-start then doled out the same treatment to Kisnorbo for a foul on Clark.

Finally, the game sparked into life on the hour as Hearts took the lead in those controversial circumstances and there was to be no way back for the 10-man Dons.

Surprisingly, with a man short, Aberdeen carved open their best chance of the game.

Full-back McGuire slammed a shot off the base of the post late on before Darren Mackie fired the rebound into the side net.

But there was no way back as Hearts held on for the victory that keeps alive their chances of finishing third again this season.

Taken from the Daily Record

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