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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth auth-> Brian Winter
[G Bayne 14]
5 of 005 Gary Glen 57 ;Michael Stewart pen 73LC H

Stewart seizes chance to fire Hearts into quarter-finals

Published Date: 24 September 2009
HEARTS came back from a goal down and a poor first-half display last night to claim their place in the quarter-finals of the Co-operative Insurance Cup with a hard-fought victory over Dunfermline, sealed by a 74th minute penalty from Michael Stewart.
The Fifers were well worth their lead at the interval, but tired after the break as Csaba Laszlo's team belatedly realised they were in a contest and began to play with some pace and desire.

Laszlo had made only one change from the team which lost in the last minute to Celtic on Sunday, and that was a necessary one, caused by injury to Andrew Driver. Striker Gary Glen came in for the winger, while another young front man, Gordon Smith, was among the substitutes. Dunfermline, who were also coming off the back of a league defeat, had two former Hearts men on their bench – Andy Kirk and Austin McCann.

Leaving an experienced goalscorer such as Kirk out of the starting line-up seemed curious, but no more so than Laszlo's decision to persist with Ismael Bouzid as his most advanced player in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The centre-back, who played up front in Sunday's 2-1 defeat in Glasgow, is good in the air and is a powerful physical presence, but it remained to be seen if his prowess in those respects was enough to compensate for his lack of experience in others.

The Dunfermline defence actually got the better of Bouzid on the first couple of occasions a high ball was played into their box, and although Hearts had most of the early play it was the Fife team who had the first real scoring chance. A long throw-in by Scott Muirhead from the Main Stand touchline drifted across the box, and Greg Ross got in front of David Obua to send in a header which was saved with some comfort by Janos Balogh.

The ease with which the opening was created was a warning to Hearts, but it was one they did not heed, and as a result they soon found themselves a goal down. A move down the Dunfermline left did not look dangerous at first, but then changed when the ball came infield to Ross. His pass found Graham Bayne on the right of the area, and although Balogh got his hands to Bayne's shot he could do no more than slow its progress into the net.

With barely quarter of an hour on the clock Hearts obviously had no need to panic about getting an equaliser, but the loss of a goal might still have been expected to induce a little more urgency in them. Instead, they played on as if nothing had happened, failing to string passes together with any conviction.

By the time half an hour had elapsed the only thing approaching a shot on goal the home team had mustered was an effort on the run from Obua which went embarrassingly high over the bar. The only positive occurrence from a Hearts point of view was the fact that Lee Wallace had run off a muscle strain which had looked like ending his participation. For Dunfermline, on the other hand, almost every aspect of play to that point had been positive.

The home team did have the ball in the net ten minutes from the interval when Marius Zaliukas headed in a free-kick by Craig Thomson, but the assistant referee's flag went up for offside. A few minutes later the centre-back had another chance from a Craig Thomson free-kick, one that would have counted this time. But, latching on to a knockdown from Obua towards the back post, Zaliukas blasted over the bar.

Then, just as the half was about to end, Hearts burst into life with three attempts at goal in quick succession. First an Obua header was blocked on the goal line by Bayne, then Obua got to the rebound but saw his shot saved by goalkeeper Greg Fleming, then finally Obua got in another shot but this one too was saved.

There was just time for another chance before the break, but Glen failed to keep down a difficult acrobatic effort.

At the interval Hearts were forced into the change they had avoided during the first half, when Wallace was replaced by Black. Jose Goncalves moved to right-back, Bouzid reverted to central defence, and Black took up his usual midfield berth. Hearts began the second half in far livelier style, and they had a strong claim for a penalty two minutes into it when Andy Dowie tangled with Suso.

With 56 minutes gone Hearts got their reward for their greater pressure with the equalising goal. Bouzid's cross from the right evaded everyone until it got to Obua on the far left, and the Uganda's chipped cross was perfectly weighted for Glen, who nodded home with the Dunfermline defence posted missing.

Dunfermline tried to mount a fightback, but they were leaving themselves open to the counter-attack. They were made to pay with 15 minutes left when Obua broke down the left and went down in a challenge with Neil McGregor. There was some contact, and although Obua appeared to go down too readily the referee awarded the penalty with little or no hesitation.

Stewart stepped up to take the spot-kick, and sent it straight down the middle as Fleming dived to his left. Substitute Gordon Smith could have had another penalty late on after nudged by Ross, but although it looked a more plausible award than the one which had been gtiven, the referee allowed play to continue.

Hearts: Balogh, C Thomson, Zaliukas, Goncalves, Wallace (Black 46), Obua, Palazuelos, Stewart, Suso, Bouzid, Glen (Smith 77). Subs not used: MacDonald, J Thomson, Kucharski.

Dunfermline: Fleming, Woods (Cardle 56), Muirhead, Holmes, McGregor, Dowie, Ross (McCann 82), Burke, Bayne, Phinn (Kirk 76), Gibson. Subs not used: Paterson, Higgins.

Taken from the Scotsman

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