London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 04 Dec 2004 Hearts 3 Dunfermline Athletic 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Times ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Mark Palmer auth-> John Underhill
12 of 012 Dennis Wyness 11 ;Ramon Pereira 46 ;Paul Hartley pen 56 L SPL H

Hartley the ace of Hearts

Mark Palmer at Tyncastle

DUNFERMLINE have not won at Tynecastle for 14 seasons. On yesterday's evidence, they will be waiting for a fair few more. Hearts, in every sector, looked light years their superiors. John Robertson's team had fight, flair and finishing. Davie Hay's, by contrast, look close to finished.

They had six out with injuries and suspensions, but another statistic is more telling. This time last season, both these two would have viewed this fixture as a potentially decisive joust in their contest for third place.

Now the East End Park club's priorities encompass no further grandiose extremes than keeping their Premierleague status, a measure of how startlingly they have subsided since Jimmy Calderwood withdrew his enriching charisma. Hearts, meanwhile, have warmed up in the dynamic of their play since Robertson's arrival, but could still give European football the cold shoulder next season if undulating points returns cannot be levelled out.

As for this campaign, the win over Basel in Switzerland that may help prolong their courtship with the Uefa Cup seems to have raised both collective spirits and individuals' performance levels. Robertson, by transporting the 4-3-3 system that eased his Inverness side's passage into the top flight in May, now has enough bodies to go the attacking distance.

Frequently under Craig Levein, Mark de Vries was expected to shoulder the full responsibility for Hearts' endeavours in the final third. He may be big, but not big enough to bear the weight of two or even three men's work.

Dennis Wyness is, happily, now on hand to lend one. Always assiduous, something had not been working in his game over the past 12 months. Strikers who don't score goals can never truthfully claim to be meeting their own. Recently, though, Wyness has been managing both. His confidence looks to be back precisely because Robertson has made clear his own in him.

In the 11th minute, Wyness did his team another turn, contorting his neck impressively to plonk home Joe Hamill's angled cross. That the opener should be a header was out of keeping with Hearts' general methodology. Their play was always to feet, the itinerant Hamill functioning as the interface between midfield and attack. On the half-hour, he channelled a chip into the penalty area that found De Vries in a sea of space. The Dutchman nimbly dragged the ball down to ground level before lapping it just over Derek Stillie's crossbar. "We want to pass the ball about, but be clinical too," said Robertson. "Today we were clinical at both ends."

His defence was left so idle that one of its members decided to show Dunfermline's forwards how it should be done. Andy Webster scuttled between markers to materialise in Dunfermline's six-yard box, where only a reflex stop from Stillie kept his side in the game, nominally at least. Webster can only have made a good name for himself in the mind of the watching Scotland manager Walter Smith, receiving his first live Premierleague audition.

He could do worse than cast his eye forward from Webster to Paul Hartley, who again gave a full rendition of the gifts Scotland's meek midfield is ready and willing to receive. Durable in the tackle, his explosive vein now only pops out when he is running with the ball at his feet, not when eyeballing an opponent. He crashed a 56th-minute penalty into the top corner after Wyness's dart was curtailed by the extended leg of Greg Ross.

Ramon Pereira had purloined the decisive second a minute into the second half. The Spaniard has running on the brain, but sometimes, it appears, little else. This particular odyssey had a precise motivation, however. Fed by De Vries far out, the former Raith Rovers forward hungrily ate up the ground separating him from the goalmouth before buffeting a drive that gusted into the rigging. "He can be a frustrating player at times, he can do wonderful things, but sometimes overdoes it," tittered Robertson.

Mindful of the pressures this month will exert on his squad - Celtic and Ferencvaros visit between now and Boxing Day - Robertson withdrew some of the bigger guns. It was a move that backfired, with Phil Stamp, one of the replacements, being stretchered off after going over on his ankle late on.

In that state, he was the one man Dunfermline might have stood a chance of keeping pace with.

STAR MAN: Paul Hartley (Hearts)

Player ratings. Hearts: Gordon 6, Kisnorbo 7, Pressley 7, Webster 7, Wyness 7 (Weir 75min, 6), De Vries 7, Hartley 8 (Stewart 70min, 6), Neilson 7, Pereira 7, McAllister 7, Hamill 7 (Stamp 65min, 6)

Dunfermline: Stillie 6 , Wilson 5, Darren Young 6, Thomson 5, Nicholson 6, Mason 6, Bradley 5 (Hunt h-t, 6), Dempsey 5, Butler 6, Tod 6, Ross 5

Scorers: Hearts: Wyness 11, Pereira 46, Hartley 56pen

Booked: Dempsey (12min)

Referee: J Underhill

Attendance: 10,084

Taken from

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