London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sun 30 Aug 2009 St Johnstone 2 Hearts 2 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth Iain Collin auth-> Mike Tumilty
[M Davidson 23] ;[M Hardie 93]
4 of 008 Jose Goncalves 59 ;David Obua 86 L SPL A

Late drama tops off Hearts' turbulent week

Iain Collin
HEARTS have, in recent times, made an art form of putting their supporters through the emotional wringer and after yet another turbulent week off the pitch they were at it again yesterday on the pitch.
Having been comprehensively outplayed by their newly-promoted hosts and slipping behind to Murray Davidson's opener, the Tynecastle side roared back after the break to lead with replies from Jose Goncalves and David Obua.

With only seconds left in injury-time, however, St Johnstone substitute Martin Hardie snatched what would have been a morale-boosting first SPL victory of the season away from the visitors with a magnificent curling free-kick.

In a week when the more unsavoury elements of the beautiful game have been highlighted by Eduardo's penalty-winning dive for Arsenal against Celtic Hearts winger, Suso Santana's apparent first-half spit at Danny Grainger was an unfortunate distraction.

The unpalatable touchline incident was missed by referee Mike Tumilty but not by the home bench, with furious manager Derek McInnes and assistant Tony Docherty lambasting the officials for failing to act. The Spaniard may find the SFA less lenient.

No sooner had the Gorgie faithful filed out into the capital's streets on Thursday night, buoyed by their side's stirring display in defeating Dinamo Zagreb 2-0, than doubts were being raised yet again over manager Csaba Laszlo's tenure at the club.

The Hungarian, who has reiterated his and his family's satisfaction with life in Edinburgh, revealed his frustrations over his inability to sign the striker he has so desperately craved ever since arriving 14 months ago.

Whether the support he talked of requiring from majority shareholder Vladimir Romanov extended to recruiting another midfielder from Lithuania, with Marius Cinikas arriving on Friday, is questionable.

The 23-year-old was not afforded a place in yesterday's matchday squad but Hearts were able to recall Lee Wallace at left-back after injury ruled him out of the Europa League tie, with the youngster's return allowing Goncalves to move inside in place of the suspended Marius Zaliukas. Understandably, given his hugely impressive debut against Zagreb, Craig Thomson retained his place at right-back, whilst in midfield Ian Black replaced Ruben Palazuelos.

Laszlo spoke prior to the match of seeking 'stability' through on-field results but there was little to steady the ship in the opening exchanges.

St Johnstone made four changes from the team which swept aside Second Division Arbroath in the Co-operative Insurance Cup on Wednesday night, with Collin Samuel, Murray Davidson, Chris Millar and Jody Morris all returning.

And it was the pairing of the speed of Samuel and the height and strength of strike partner Kenny Deuchar which was the source of much of Hearts' discontent in a shaky looking rearguard.

Wallace was booked for pulling down Samuel on one early break and it was from another raid forward that the home side took the lead midway through the half. Samuel allied power to his pace and held up possession long enough to allow reinforcements to arrive. When Dave Mackay speared his cross into the box it was Davidson who towered above everyone else to send an inch-perfect header back across Janos Balogh's despairing dive.

Laszlo had indicated his players may be tired following Thursday night's magnificent exertions and their play betrayed their apparent lack of energy.

The maligned Christian Nade was at least covering the ground and one excellently weighted through ball eight minutes from the interval deserved a better outcome than Gary Glen's shot which screwed well wide of the goal.

With the final action of the half, Filipe Morais should have done better than head wide after Deuchar had won yet another aerial battle to find the Portuguese careering in at the back post.

Tumilty was put on the spot four minutes into the second period when Samuel handled in his own box in trying to control a dropping ball but the referee ignored the penalty appeals.

Even more controversial was Tumilty's decision not to award a spot-kick in the 55th minute. Nade troubled Stuart McCaffrey enough to force a short header back and the Frenchman appeared to get to the ball first before tumbling under keeper Alan Main's challenge. However, the result was a yellow card for the Hearts striker.

Yet, the visitors were back in the match only three minutes later. Thomson, whose dead-ball deliveries were excellent throughout, curled in an in-swinging free-kick from the left and Goncalves careered through a crowd of bodies to bullet in his header.

Hearts were suddenly transformed, the goal re-energising their previously languid play. However, Balogh was still twice required to maintain parity, blocking Samuel's shot on the turn and substitute Martin Hardie's header through a ruck of players.

Ian Black's 81st minute shot from Thomson's free-kick dipped just too late before Graham Garland's header at the other was ruled out for Deuchar's block on Balogh just seconds before Obua's 86th minute strike.

Wallace cantered forward from left-back and, when Main parried the resultant shot from Arvydas Novikovas, Obua rattled the rebound into the net.

There was still time for Balogh to deny Morais and substitute Steven Milne as Saints desperately sought the equaliser, which deservedly came with virtually the last kick of the match when Hardie lofted in his free-kick deep into injury-time.


Collin Samuel (St Johnstone)

The striker's searing pace caused Hearts all sorts of problems during an uncomfortable afternoon's work for the visitors' rearguard.

On this form, the former Dundee United player will be a handful for the rest of the SPL.

Taken from the Scotsman

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