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<-Page <-Team Tue 07 Jul 2009 Goslarer Sport Club von 1908 1 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Sebastian Rabe
[G Podokzak 23]
3 of 003 David Obua 26 ;Michael Stewart 33F A

Stewart at the Heart of the matter

Published Date: 08 July 2009
By Barry Anderson
Goslar SC 1 -2 Hearts
PERHAPS it was the magical powers of the captain's armband, but leadership simply poured out of Michael Stewart last night as Hearts opened their pre-season tour of Germany with victory over regional league side Goslar SC 08. Fittingly, the prospective new skipper etched his name on the scoresheet to complement an inspired first-half display before being withdrawn at the interval.

As first revealed by the Evening News last month, Stewart is the leading candidate to succeed Robbie Neilson as Hearts captain. There are those who will question his temperament for the role, and even last night's 45 minutes did not pass without controversy for the Scotland midfielder.

He verbally chastised Calum Elliot for a misplaced pass before becoming embroiled in a round of handbags with an opponent as the half-time whistle sounded. But, make no mistake, passion is there in abundance. Certain others may strut around Riccarton like Hearts owe them a living, but Stewart would bleed maroon if you cut him.

Even allowing for the lower-level opposition last night, he took a commanding grasp of the game following Gregorz Podokzak's 20th minute opener and hauled Hearts back into a position of supremacy. His communication skills were evident for all in the 300-plus crowd to hear as he talked colleagues through the game and offered guidance to new faces donning a maroon shirt for the first time.

Put simply, he looked ready, at 28, for the responsibility of being a captain. Which is perhaps just as well given that Csaba Laszlo has few real alternatives. "He is the most experienced in the team, so why not?" asked the manager, who handed Stewart the armband before kick-off. "Mike, Larry Kingston and Marius Zaliukas have a chance, but Mike is back in the national team and his attitude is fantastic. He takes responsibility and he is Scottish. That's important as he is close to the fans, the club and everything."

Lithuanian director Sergejus Fedotovas flew to Germany for this game and would have noticed the drive with which Stewart went about his business. He may also have noted the hesitation which allowed Goslar to open the scoring. A clearance by full-back Ben Lipke bounced in front of Jose Goncalves, partnering recent signing Dawid Kucharski in central defence. He dithered momentarily and was dispossessed by striker Gregorz Podokzak, who homed in on Janos Balogh before dispatching the ball high into the net from around 20 yards.

When only Balogh's reactions prevented Kucharski's impromptu clearance from winding up in the net after the Hearts defence was again sliced open, consternation festered on the touchline. It took a goal from David Obua to restore composure. David Witteveen, the Austrian trialist, released Elliot but could not connect with the young Scot's returned cross and it was left to Obua to convincingly stroke the ball low beyond Goslar goalkeeper Marc Bormann.

Most of Hearts' forward movements were conducted through Stewart and on 34 minutes he earned reward for his endeavours. After driving from his own half he slipped an intelligent pass in behind the Goslar defence for Suso, the recently-signed Spanish winger. Bormann parried the subsequent cross but Stewart, having continued his run, arrived to convert his side's second goal.

That the assist came from Suso was little coincidence. His debut hinted that Laszlo has procured an extremely useful free transfer from Spain's lower divisions, one who may be diminutive in size but lacks nothing in upper body strength. He also looks a master of good, old-fashioned ball skill. If there is a Spanish phrase for tanner ba' player, it would apply to Suso.

"He is a very interesting player, a little like Andy Driver but with more dribbling," said Laszlo. "He creates a lot of danger and this is nice to see. He is not afraid, he is not a big size but he is very strong and he wins a lot of headed balls. I think Suso can be a player who can always make a surprise on the field."

The manager conducted nine interval substitutions with this evening's match against Slask Wroclaw in mind. Many of the replacements were younger players hoping to catch the manager's eye. Ian Black looked tidy in midfield during the second half and Lithuanian trialist Vytautas Luksa, pronounced Looksha, complemented his skill with industry on both flanks. Gary Glen ought to have scored on 68 minutes when one-on-one with the Goslar goalkeeper, but he clipped his shot narrowly wide from around 18 yards and Black's attempt from distance was palmed for a corner during the closing stages.

Witteveen, looking shorn of match sharpness, was replaced by another Lithuanian trialist Marius Cinikas during the second half, leaving Kucharski as the only visiting player to feature in every minute of the 90. He looked assured and thoughtful in central defence, confident in possession with a definite physical presence. Overall, very much in command.

Although not as commanding as his captain.

Hearts: Balogh, Jonsson, Kucharski, Goncalves, Wallace, Suso, Stewart, Palazuelos, Obua, Elliot, Witteveen. Subs: McDonald 46 (for Balogh), J Thomson 46 (for Wallace), C Thomson 46 (for Jonsson), Glen 46 (for Elliot), Cinikas 74 (for Witteveen), Luksa 46 (for Suso), Novikovas 46 (for Obua), Black 46 (for Stewart), Mrowiec 46 (for Palazuelos), McGowan 46 (for Goncalves).

Goslar SC 08: Bormann, Markay, Dos Santos, Fisher, Halstenberg, Lipke, Noljook, Podokzak, Ridder, Schemflug, Lauenstein. Subs: Binder, Dahlin, Andres, Mohlembrod, Macpen, Szweda, Ulisik.


HEARTS fans must wait until 7 November for a derby clash with Hibs next season – but the Jambos get an early chance to beat a team dressed in green tonight.

Csaba Laszlo's side take on Polish club Slask Wroclaw at the Rudolf Kalweit Stadion in their second pre-season match.

Wroclaw play in the top tier of Polish football, the Ekstraklasa, where they finished last season in sixth position.

The "Wojskowi", as they are known to their fans, have had reasonable success over their 52-year history, with their finest moments coming in the late 1970s with an Ekstraklasa title win in 1976-77 as well as a Polish Cup victory the season before.

Following that Cup win, Slask made it to the quarter-finals of the Cup-Winners Cup before losing out to Italian side Napoli.

In 1980, Slask faced Dundee United in the UEFA Cup, losing 7-2 on aggregate following a 0-0 draw in the home leg.

They ended a 22-year trophy drought last term when they lifted the Ekstraklasa Cup (League Cup) for the first time in their history with a 1-0 victory over Odra Wodzislaw

Taken from the Scotsman

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