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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Rob Fairburn auth-> Craig Thomson
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4 of 004 Suso Santana 25F H

Hearts 1 Blackburn 1

Aug 8 2010 Rob Fairburn, Sunday Mail

MIDFIELD dynamo Ian Black insists Hearts are ready to take the SPL by storm after seeing his side hold their own against top-class Premiership opposition.

The Gorgie side were in front at the interval against Blackburn thanks to a screamer from Suso Santana.

However, they had to be content with a share of the spoils after Sam Allardyce's side snatched an equaliser on the hour mark.

But 25-year-old Black, who spent three years at Ewood Park as a teenager, said: "I didn't think there was much between the teams.

"In fact we are a bit disappointed that we never held on for the win.

"But the mood in the camp is good and everyone is working hard with next week's SPL opener against St Johnstone in mind.

"We have shown we are more than ready given we were out there competing against the Premiership guys."

Hearts certainly gave a decent account of themselves yesterday and after a dull opening 10 minutes the game burst into life with a surging run from Lithuanian winger Arvydas Novikovas.

Picking the ball up deep on the left flank, he jinked past two challenges before drilling a well-struck angled shot from 20 yards inches wide of the post.

Novikovas proved the danger man again in 18 minutes when he split open the Rovers defence with a crossfield pass to Jason Thomson and raced into the box to meet the cross.

However, on this occasion he was off balance and volleyed his effort high and wide.

It took until the 21st minute before the away side created their first chance when El-Hadji Diouf's cross from the right was headed downwards by Morten Gamst Pedersen and Janos Balogh was content to touch the bouncing ball over.

From the corner the ball fell kindly to Irish international Keith Andrews eight yards out but Jason Thomson, who was standing at the post, managed to keep his piledriver out and the ball was scrambled to safety.

But it was the home side who broke the deadlock in 26 minutes with a wonder strike from Santana.

The Spanish winger let rip from 20 yards with the outside of his boot and saw the ball take a slight deflection off New Zealand's World Cup captain Ryan Nelsen before finding the top corner of the net.

Moments later Hearts almost doubled their lead when Craig Thomson stole in at the far post to meet Lee Wallace's cross from the bye-line only to send his header wide of the mark.

Diouf was next to go close after he drifted in at the back post for a free header from Martin Olsson's cross but the Senegal striker mistimed his effort and sent the ball wide.

Immediately after the re-start Thomson brought out a fine save from Rovers keeper Mark Bunn who fisted a viciously-struck free-kick over the bar.

Rovers responded when David Hoilett blasted Pedersen's long throw over the bar when the Canadian should at least have hit the target to test Hearts' sub keeper Jamie MacDonald.

And the English side got back on level terms in 59 minutes through sub Mame Diouf.

Full-back Lars Jacobsen's deep cross from the right was won in the air by Pedersen and the on-loan Manchester United striker was first to react as he stroked the ball past MacDonald.

A string of substitutions then took the sting out of the game although ex-Liverpool striker El-Hadji Diouf wasted a good shooting opportunity when he blasted well wide.

And Rovers could have snatched a winner when Jacobsen's cross was met by Hoilett but the winger's header sneaked inches past.

Blackburn assistant manager Neil McDonald said: "We still have a lot of work to do to sharpen up for the Everton game next week. But it was a decent exercise for us.

"With the Celtic game on Sunday we split the squad using our internationals today against Hearts. It gives everyone in the squad a good run-out.

"Hearts passed the ball well and Novikovas looked a really lively player for them."

Taken from the Daily Record

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