London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 12 Aug 2006 Hearts 0 Falkirk 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Telegraph ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Valdas Ivanauskas <-auth Roddy Forsyth auth-> John Underhill
23 of 060 ----- L SPL H

European exertions leave Hearts tired

By Roddy Forsyth
(Filed: 14/08/2006)

A change of scene could provide the respite Hearts need after their hectic start to the season according to the Tynecastle coach, Valdas Ivanauskas, who saw his side jeered from the field by after Saturday's goalless home draw with Falkirk.

Ivanauskas, whose long-term employment prospects appear to be thin after last week's 2-1 defeat by AEK Athens in the Champions League third qualifying round, may find his situation clarified after Hearts' next two fixtures.

Both are demanding away games, first against Rangers at Ibrox on Saturday and then the return leg against AEK in the Greek capital.

Meanwhile, this is an international week and though Scotland are not in action - Walter Smith's squad gather today in St Andrews for a training camp - several Hearts players will be called up by their countries. Ivanauskas identified the debilitating effects of European involvement - a factor familiar to the Old Firm sides over many years - as a decisive influence on the performance against Falkirk. "We wanted to win the game and we tried our best to do that, but it was not easy especially after Wednesday night," Ivanauskas said.

"I think if we could have scored the first goal everything would have been OK. As the game went on, though, you could see the players getting tired, which is understandable after the big start we have made to the season.

"I can understand the fans getting frustrated - they want to win every game - but sometimes that's just not possible. It's a very important time for us and we have one full week between now and the next game against Rangers.

"First, though, we have quite a lot of players away on international duty and I think the change will be good for them."

Hearts nevertheless remain top of the SPL table on goal difference from Falkirk after Rangers were held to a 1-1 draw by Dunfermline Athletic at East End Park yesterday. Celtic, who lost to Hearts at Tynecastle last Sunday, closed to within a point of the leaders and moved level with St Mirren when they beat the Paisley side 2-0, with a first-half goal from stand-in captain Stephen McManus and a strike after the break by Stilian Petrov.

A certain amount of feverish pre-match speculation concerned Neil Lennon, who was no in the Celtic squad and not present at the ground. However, the Celtic captain turned up at the interval with a friend whom he had arranged to pick up and bring to the fixture. Gordon Strachan dismissed the fuss - "It's Glasgow, it's rumour city", was the Celtic manager's response - and indicated that Lennon had suffered a hamstring injury.

Elsewhere, Aberdeen kept Motherwell anchored to the bottom of the table when two Darren Mackie goals secured the points for the Pittodrie side at Fir Park. The other SPL fixtures - between Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Hibernian and Kilmarnock's meeting with Dundee United at Rugby Park - failed to yield goals.

Taken from

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