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Kilmarnock 1 - 2 Hearts: Pressure eases on Laszlo as Hearts move up to seventh

Published Date: 29 November 2009
By Martin Hannan at Rugby Park
AN 88th-minute penalty miss by captain Kevin Kyle proved disastrous for Kilmarnock after second-half goals from Eggert Jonsson and Christian Nade gave Hearts three vital pointsand moved them up to seventh in the table.

"This game showed that we have stayed together," said Hearts' manager Csaba Laszlo. "Today the players gave me something back."

The managerial pressure cooker now moves to engulf Jim Jefferies as Kilmarnock have slipped to 11th place, just a point ahead of Falkirk and with only one better on goal difference.

"We were on top for most of the match," said Jefferies, "but we didn't take our chances. You can't put the ball in the net for them, that's something they have to do themselves."

Let's hope Jefferies does not withdraw his team behind the wagons, for at times, especially in the second half, they played some good stuff. But when your main goalscorer can't put the ball in the net from the spot, you are going to have problems. The fear factor is a terrible thing. It kills football, at least the inventive, creative variety. With these two teams flirting with relegation, they came out almost stultified with negativity, both defences and midfields stonewalling it.

There was no end of effort in a first half of quite execrable quality in which there was barely a moment of excitement, especially in the first half-hour when an afternoon's Christmas shopping in a shop full of screaming brats seemed like a better alternative.

After half an hour the statistics didn't lie – possession had been shared equally and so had the number of attempts on target which stood at a big fat zero.

Janos Balogh had punched away a Mehdi Taouil corner before Kilmarnock had a decent penalty claim in the 17th minute for Lee Wallace handling the ball as he fell, referee Steve Nicholls judging it as ball to hand rather than vice-versa.

It was another umpiring decision which spoiled the best moment of the half after 32 minutes, when Kevin Kyle's header across goal was gleefully thumped home by Jamie Hammill, only for the offside flag to be raised.

Until that point, Taouil had been the most creative player afield but he descended into the collective mediocrity with a couple of baleful efforts from distance.

Kilmarnock enjoyed their best spell of pressure towards the end of the half, and Taouil and David Fernandez combined for the latter's close-range effort which went narrowly by Balogh's righthand post. Kyle was next to have a go, but his header was straight at Balogh, while the goalkeeper had to look lively to claw away a Taouil corner. At the other end, Mark Brown had hardly been forced to make a save the entire half. "That wasn't football, it was complete shit," said manager Laszlo.

Hearts lost new Scotland international Wallace with an ankle knock at half-time, Ian Black coming on as Ruben Palazuelos switched to leftback.

Wallace will have a scan tomorrow, said Laszlo.

Had Kyle headed under instead of over the bar and Frazer Wright hammered a close-range chance instead of inexplicably waving a slipper at it, the visitors would have been two down when they scored.

Laryea Kingston's attempt at a bicycle kick goal had gone wide before a welltaken 66th-minute goal by Eggert Jonsson put Hearts ahead. "I knew it was a goal as soon as I hit it," said Jonsson of his left-foot volley, returning with interest a clearance from Craig Thomson's free kick.

Hearts visibly upped their game and it was no surprise when they went further ahead ten minutes later,Nade cleverly heading Craig Thomson's corner past Mark Brown at the near post. Itwas the striker's second goal in two weeks after a nine-month drought.

Kilmarnock tried manfully to get back into the game. Taouil had a shot from distance held before the same player combined with Craig Bryson to set up Jamie Fowler for a close-range effort that went past the post.

With three minutes left, substitute Conor Sammon was fouled in the box by Dawid Kucharski. Captain Kyle stepped up to take the responsibility, but his penalty kick was poor, a weak shot low to Balogh's right which the goalkeeper saved cosily.

It wasn't over even then, as Kyle partially redeemed himself a minute later by laying on a perfect pass which Bryson struck home.

It was too late for Kilmarnock, however, and the fans were entitled to their anger at the end, said Kyle. "We have lost four games on the bounce, two of them at home, as we haven't taken our chances." The question now is how many more will Kilmarnock's players and manager Jefferies get? As for Hearts, Laszlo said he was "halfway" in his talks with the board about his ambitions for the future.

Taken from the Scotsman

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