London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth auth-> Chris Boyle
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Stewart singled out as Hearts fans vent anger on day of frustration

Published Date: 26 October 2009
THE thin line between success and failure could not have been better illustrated at Tynecastle on Saturday afternoon when an ultimately frustrating afternoon for Hearts led to the home supporters barracking the substituted Michael Stewart before jeering the entire team at the final whistle.
Failure to break down the SPL's basement side Falkirk in a toothless goal-less draw that leaves Csaba Laszlo's side slumped in ninth place proved too much for a Gorgie support that still has vivid memories of the inglorious eighth-place finish in 2007/08.

Yet, the events for which this game will be remembered could have been avoided if it had not been for lamentable finishing that has plagued Hearts of late.

David Obua, who missed a gilt-edged chance to score a second goal in last week's 1-1 draw at Aberdeen, was again guilty of a glaring miss just five minutes into the weekend's visit of the Bairns.

Connecting with Lee Wallace's perfect delivery, the Ugandan headed the ball over Robert Olejnik's cross bar.

Andy Driver then uncharacteristically lacked composure when he swept the ball wide from an angle after being put through by the lively Suso Santana.

As the minutes ticked by, the frustration emanating from the home crowd became palpable as Falkirk, who had passed up a first half chance of their own through Kjartan Finnbogason, kept the hosts at bay.

An ankle injury that hampered Stewart in the days leading up to the game did not help as the Scotland cap produced an uninspiring performance although the skipper was not on his own as his team-mates too contributed to a lame display.

However, Stewart, who did not help himself with child-like tantrums aimed at his colleagues during the match, found himself the target as he was booed by large sections of the home crowd when he was replaced by Ian Black in the 78th minute.

Blanking the home bench, Stewart trudged straight up the tunnel after exchanging a hand-shake with Falkirk manager Eddie May.

"I can't talk for Mike but I think for the first time in my career I saw that the captain did not have the acceptance from the supporters, this is not okay," said crestfallen Hearts manager Laszlo.

"Everyone works for the club and so long as I'm in charge, I support the players. You can also be angry at Suso (Santana] and David Obua for missing chances.

"I think the supporters must know the situation, if you are two or three nil up it's easy to support the team but at the moment this team is struggling and we need the support.

"I protect always my players and so long as Mike Stewart is in the club, he has the protection from us and from me."

As well as trying to rectify his side's penalty box inadequacies ahead of Wednesday's League Cup quarter-final at Celtic, Laszlo now finds himself trying to resolve dis- harmony between another player and the supporters.

Ghanaian international Laryea Kingston, who missed Saturday's match with a recurrence of the infamous hamstring injury, was booed when he made his first appearance of the season at Aberdeen after being criticised by his manager of putting country before club.

Hearts defender Ismael Bouzid has sympathy for Stewart and insists his captain has his support. He said: "We are a team, we are altogether. I don't know why the supporters had this reaction. We don't want to fight. If Michael has a problem, I want to help Michael and I would hope if I had a problem, Michael would want to help me.

"I understand, I know we must win the game and last week it was the same situation. All the players tried to win the game but we don't score the goal and this is the problem. We have the possibility but we don't score. I understand the supporters, they are not happy but I am also not happy.

"The reaction from the supporters was not good. We need them on side – they must help the team. I understand it's difficult and that the fans are not happy – because we did not take the points. But if they help the team more and are more positive, that would be good. If the supporters have a negative reaction the next ball is more difficult. If they help you, you are stronger mentally."

While his side are still rooted to the bottom of the league, the draw was encouraging for Falkirk manager May.

He said: "It's a fantastic result coming here, we have come to a very difficult venue against a good Hearts team.

"The demands I put on the players are very high and sometimes they have been fantastic, we have to hit a consistency for the season."

Taken from the Scotsman

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