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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Chris Tait auth-> Alan Muir
[M Paixao 62]
2 of 006 Michael Stewart pen 55 ;Suso Santana 57 L SPL H

Witteveen ploughs an untidy but effective lone furrow

* 6590260

* Santana celebratesPhotograph: Craig Watson

Chris Tait

Published on 26 Sep 2009

LEADING the line represents an onerous task at the very best of times.

It is a job made all the harder if you are no good at it.

During the week, Csaba Laszlo, the Hearts manager, broke the established managerial protocol by choosing to criticise his two senior strikers, Christian Nade and David Witteveen. Laszlo cited a number of different fallacies in the players and claimed that neither were deserving of a place in his team. Indeed, not since Burke and Hare roamed the streets have a duo felt so unwanted in Edinburgh – and those two were famous for their killer instinct.

Despite his manager harbouring a lack of confidence in his abilities, it was Witteveen who found himself charged with the task of breaking down a belatedly obstinate Hamilton defence. It was somewhat ironic, and no doubt satisfying for Witteveen, that the big Austrian was directly involved in his side’s two goals yesterday.

Witteveen’s first major contribution was to win a penalty for his side, going down under close attention from Mark Canning. Billy Reid, the Hamilton manager, was left seething at the decision, more so when Michael Stewart stepped up to crack in the spot kick with aplomb.

I think the big lad Goncalves tried to control the ball and it clearly hit him on the arm

There did appear to be contact but Reid was furious
that play had not been stopped moments before after Jose Goncalves used his hand to steady the ball in the lead up to Witteveen’s tumble.

The striker’s second contribution was more tenuous. A rare, surging run in behind the Hamilton defence resulted in a corner from which Suso Santana somehow bundled in Hearts’ second.

Laszlo was later questioned on his comments about his towering striker and the Hungarian revealed that unforeseen circumstances had allowed his inclusion.

“Reuben [Palazuelos] told me he had, in the night, vomiting and he didn’t feel well,” he said. “I had definitely a different shape in mind but we were pressed to change and I decided to bring David Witteveen in the front.

“On the bench we had also Scott Robinson who had not trained really for a long time with the first team. This was the big danger to bring in this guy in, in such an important game, and this was the decision today at 10 o’clock after Reuben’s news.”

It was hardly a ringing endorsement for Witteveen but, on evidence of his overall performance, that was hardly surprising. The burly striker toiled in his role and was regularly dogged by a poor first touch, a lack of pace and wayward finishing. Still, he wasn’t the only one who disappointed.

During what was a, frankly, dreadful first half, both sides toiled in the sun and failed to engineer anything approaching a genuine chance. Both sides opted to play a lone striker and this curtailed the chance of meaningful entertainment. The midfield became littered with poor passing and weak tackles, with the half-time whistle coming as an act of mercy.

The second half began in the same vein before the goals arrived like Edinburgh buses.

Hamilton managed to pull themselves back into the contest as Marco Paixao pounced on another defensive error, this time from Ismael Bouzid, before slotting the ball calmly past Janos Balogh.

If those who were inside Tynecastle viewed this unprecedented flurry of activity as a rude awakening, they would have had no problem drifting
off again as the closing minutes petered out.

For Hamilton, the loss represented a jolt to the system after they had looked like putting their jittery start to the season behind them with some solid performances. Reid was furious, though apparently not at
his side’s display. In a game bereft in any tangible talking point other than the penalty, it was inevitable that he chose to focus on that incident.

“I’m not surprised you’re asking the question [about the penalty],” he said. “I think the big lad Goncalves tried to control the ball and it clearly hit him on the arm. My view is that the guy has turned our player, I think he’s knocked the ball out the park and he goes over our player.”

Taken from the Herald

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