London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Sunday Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Phil Gordon auth-> William Collum
8 of 021 ----- L SPL H

Misplaced passion draws blank

Phil Gordon at Tynecastle

CSABA LASZLO HAS EARNED a reputation for rambling discourses which perhaps mask a more ruthless side. The Hearts coach, however, wasted no time in cutting straight to the heart of the matter yesterday when he took off Christian Nade to spare the striker the ultimate punishment.

It took Lazslo barely a minute to decide that Nade had been fortuitous in escaping a red card for an ugly challenge on Paul Dixon in this feisty stalemate, and the Frenchman was swiftly substituted, even though that left the Tynecastle side to play without a recognised frontman for an hour.

The crude 31st-minute tackle was the major talking point of the draw between the league's two contenders for the principal challenger to Celtic and Rangers. Perhaps it was no surprise that just a week after they both drew with each half of the Old Firm, they should cancel each other out, too.

It ought to have elicited a straight red card from Willie Collum, but instead he brandished only a yellow at Nade. Laszlo quickly replaced Nade with David Obua and later the Hearts manager gave a blunt analysis of his actions.

"A lot of people think I'm a nice guy with understanding but I have no understanding in my job for indiscipline. I spoke to Christian and he understands now. I must protect my team and my players. If the referee had seen his frustration, he could have given him a red card for his next challenge."

Laszlo's counterpart, Craig Levein, was incensed at the time by both the challenge and Collum's leniency but had calmed down afterwards, perhaps in light of the new self-imposed silence by SPL managers on criticisms of referees, but also because Nade had offered an apology to the United manager.

"I was jumping about, waving my arms and shouting," explained Levein. "Willie stopped me and dealt with the incident. Paul is fine. I was really concerned about him at first."

Dixon was not quite as sanguine as his manager, insisting that he felt Nade should have been dismissed.

"I passed the ball to Morgaro Gomis and then looked up and saw Nade charging in," said Dixon. "I could not get out the way. I think it was a red card. He caught me right above the knee. I think he was taken off for his own safety."

The game was in stark contrast to the pre-match respect. Few places do tradition as well as Tynecastle. Old players from previous generations are frequently paraded at half- time for the modern day Hearts fans, so it was little surprise that the place was wrapped in silence before kick-off to honour John Urquhart, one of their League Cup winning side of 1964, and John Cumming, of the best-ever Hearts side in the late 1950s.

Levein, of course, is very much a hero around these parts, for his contribution as a player and manager but the United manager is now utilising his talents for a different employer. One of his qualities is to see hidden talent in unheralded individuals and Craig Conway has become a useful weapon, as the tiny winger underlined when he cut in from the left past Robbie Neilson before firing a shot narrowly over the bar.

That was a rare moment of fluidity in this robust contest. Hearts offered little threat, apart from Andy Driver, while their overly aggressive style drew the visitors into combat, rather than creativity.

Gomis had to leave the pitch in the opening minutes with a bloodied nose and then Nade scythed Dixon down as the full-back stood on the touchline.

As the hooked Nade reached the dugout, he petulantly rejected a consoling hand from Laszlo.

His replacement, Obua, almost broke the deadlock in the 43rd minute when a sublime Laryea Kingston pass across the face of goal would have been finished off by the Ugandan, but Lee Wilkie delivered the ball for a corner. Then, Driver illustrated his rich vein of form with a fine turn inside the box to conjure up a shot that Lukasz Zaluska touched wide of the post.

Driver maintained that threat after the interval, robbing Mihael Kovacevic and racing clear before his cross was kept out of Obua's reach by the vigilant Zaluksa. Christophe Berra came close a few minute later, when he was picked out by Bruno Aguiar's corner, but sidefooted his finish into the side-netting.

United substitute Danny Swanson won a corner in the 66th minute that almost proved his side's undoing. The visitors were caught by a swift counter-attack that allowed Driver to forge down the left and cut inside Willo Flood.

The goal was at his mercy but his tame shot went straight into Zaluska's grateful hands.

In truth, United barely carved out a genuine scoring opportunity in the second period. Their solitary effort came in the 76th minute when Swanson's corner picked out Jon Daly, but the striker planted a header just wide.

As the contest drifted towards an inevitable conclusion, the bulk of the 16,442 Tynecastle crowd took out their frustration on Collum for booking Kingston and the two sides remain locked in joint-third place.

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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