London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 11 Dec 2004 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 Hearts 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Paul Kiddie auth-> Calum Murray
Webster Andy [J Perez pen 67]
9 of 009 Paul Hartley pen 62 L SPL A

John accepts Referee gets it 'right' yet again


Inverness CT 1
Juanjo, 67 (Pen)

Hearts 1
Hartley, 62 (Pen)

WITH former Hearts star Juanjo always likely to be a key figure for Inverness Caley Thistle against his old club, it came as no surprise to see the Spaniard featured on the front of the match programme.

On reflection, though, the production team could easily have opted for referee Calum Murray, the official having a much greater influence on the Pittodrie clash than any of the 28 players used by either side.

True, the former Barcelona kid was the Highlanders’ main man as he revelled in locking horns with his former employers. It was the man in black, though, who provided all the talking points after John Robertson’s side had been forced to settle for a share of the spoils with a 1-1 draw against the club which had given him his first managerial opportunity.

Such an outcome would not have been acceptable for Hearts prior to kick-off as they strived to make up ground on third-placed Aberdeen.

But after seeing Andy Webster controversially red-carded in the first half, it proved to be a hard-earned point for the visitors.

The match, which had been drifting along in the opening period, erupted into life in the 33rd minute when Scotland star Webster was given his marching orders after tangling with Graham Bayne on the track in front of the dug outs.

In chasing down a ball, the centre-half bundled his opponent into the wall running along the front of the main stand. From the back of the stand it was impossible to see what exactly happened in the immediate aftermath of the challenge but no sooner had the pair gone to ground than a melee involving more than a dozen players ensued.

Ross Tokely charged in to the fray indicating Webster had stamped on his team-mate, a view the referee clearly shared with the red card he flashed in the Jambo’s face after restoring peace to the proceedings.

Despite making the long walk off without the slightest hint of a protest, the defender pleaded his innocence after the final whistle and certainly such a reaction would be out of character for a player with just one SPL booking to his name this season prior to Saturday.

Gorgie boss Robbo described the flashpoint as nothing more than "handbags", insisting both players had had a little pop at each other.

"The two players crashed into the dug out and had a kick at each other off the ball and that’s all it was," he said.

"But one got a red card and the other got nothing. The referee must have seen something that no-one else in the ground did. But that is his prerogative and that was the decision he made.

"The fourth official saw nothing, the linesman saw nothing but the referee sees something else. He makes the decisions and, of course, he is 100 per cent right again.

"It was handbags stuff with a wee reaction from both players to each other. We won’t be appealing as there is no point - refs are always 100 per cent right."

Hearts were thus forced to shuffle their pack as they played out almost the last hour of the game with ten men.

The visitors had been outplayed by their lively hosts even before Webster’s departure, the below-par display coming as a surprise given the recent excellent form under Robertson.

The exciting prospect of one of the most important European ties in Hearts’ history seemed a million miles away from the bleak surroundings of a deserted Pittodrie.

Indeed, Thursday’s UEFA Cup showdown with Ferencvaros at Murrayfield shouldn’t have had a bearing on proceedings yet it would seem to be a possible reason behind the Gorgie outfit’s strange malaise.

Knowing something drastic needed to be done, Robertson replaced the ineffective Dennis Wyness and Ramon Pereira with Graham Weir and Michael Stewart at the interval.

And the change certainly brought a marked improvement, Hearts curiously performing better with ten men than they had done with a full complement of players.

They had been lucky to go in at the break still on level terms, Juanjo missing a golden chance after 14 minutes when straight through on Craig Gordon, while the Scotland keeper did well to keep out Bayne’s header in stoppage time as Caley Thistle continued to dominate.

The presence of the diminutive Weir as well as the improving Stewart changed the momentum of the game and the little striker should have put the Jambos ahead on the hour mark when Joe Hamill’s pass sent him through on Mark Brown. With just the keeper to beat, though, he fluffed his opportunity.

Two minutes later, though, and Weir won a penalty after going down following an ill-advised challenge from Brown as he attempted to round the goalkeeper. Paul Hartley stepped up to convert.

Robertson later admitted it was a soft award and the referee duly returned the favour in the 67th minute when he pointed to the spot at the other end after Juanjo threw himself to the ground as Patrick Kisnorbo and Stewart attempted to close the Spaniard down.

Having fallen over a bit too easily for the visitors’ liking, the former Gorgie favourite picked himself to take the kick himself and level the match.

And three minutes later he was inches away from putting Caley ahead, his shot from eight-yards thumping off Gordon’s bar.

A dangerous drive across the face of goal from Tokely was only inches away from Roy McBain and Bayne and then Robbie Neilson had to be alert to block full-back Tokely as he prepared to pull the trigger six minutes from time.

There was still time for Hearts to almost snatch victory, Steven Pressley’s header from Hartley’s corner cleared off the line by McBain.

In the circumstances victory would have been a real bonus for Hearts, Robertson declaring himself happy with a point.

"It was difficult enough with eleven against eleven," he said. "In the first half I thought Caley were superb. They controlled the game and seemed to have more passion and more belief and we never really got going in the first half.

"We rejigged things in the second half and came a bit more direct. Graham Weir missed as good chance before earning us a softish penalty and we then got pulled back by an even softer one. The referee said he didn’t even it up so again he is 100 per cent right."

Taken from the Scotsman

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