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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Frank Gilfeather auth-> Iain Brines
[E Odhiambo 37]
10 of 013 Christopher Innes og 44 ;Ryan Stevenson 55 ;Calum Elliot 69L SPL A

Kyle makes his presence felt as weak defending costs Butcher’s men dearly

Frank Gilfeather

19 Sep 2010

Jim Jefferies last night put a tongue-in-cheek spin on his side’s convincing victory in the Highland rain by claiming the first-half introduction of Kevin Kyle was a wily piece of decision-making on his part, one that helped the visitors win the day.

The Hearts manager was impressed by his big striker’s effort, not to mention his physical attributes, which brought the Gorgie men their equaliser just before the interval.

Kyle’s presence was integral to the progress his side made the longer the game went on, despite him being left out of the starting line-up. When he was pressed into action in the 35th minute, however – a substitute for the injured Ian Black – it sparked the visitors into recognising that their opponents were weak, some might say pitiful, at the back.

“With being out for such a long time and not having any pre-season games,” Jefferies said, “Kevin is not at his sharpest. If you want to put a slant on it that I left him out last week and he was a wee bit peeved, then it was a great decision to bring him on, because he’s come on and been outstanding. Maybe he had a point to make that he could handle it.

“His presence got us the equaliser because [Chris] Innes knew he was there and was forced into doing what he did.”

Innes’s touch on David Templeton’s viciously-delivered free kick was enough to guide the ball past Ryan Esson, the Caley Thistle goalkeeper, who, Jefferies added, would probably have been beaten in any case by the pace of the delivery.

It raised Hearts’ spirit following Eric Odhiambo’s opener seven minutes earlier, the former Leicester City striker finishing a slick manoeuvre involving Nick Ross, a tricky teenage winger whose runs down the left presented Hearts with problems.

His presence got us the equaliser; Innes was forced into doing what he did.

Jim Jefferies

But it was the slapdash approach to their work that saw the home defenders punished once the game came alive in the second half and both sides accepted they would have to step-up their work-rate and tempo.

“We had opportunities,” said Terry Butcher, their manager, “but we gave Hearts chances, easy chances, as well which doesn’t excite me at all.

“If you concede goals in the SPL the way we did it’s going to be very hard to win football games. Kyle is a big boy and technically very good and he caused us problems. He changed the game when he came on. It’s disappointing because our fans will say ‘we’re one-nil up, doing okay, matching Hearts’, then all of a sudden bang, bang, bang, and it’s 3-1.”

Inverness’ aspirations began to disintegrate when their defence switched off in the 54th minute. Calum Elliot’s flick-on fell for Ryan Stevenson and, with Ross Tokely looking on, the midfielder thundered his shot into the ground, the bounce taking the strike past Esson.

The visitors’ superiority was underlined 11 minutes later as the home side visibly wilted. They lacked the movement of their opponents and, soon, it was the turn of the provider to take centre stage. Suso Santana’s trickery took him past Tokely and when he fed the ball across goal, it fell into the path of Elliot, whose stride wasn’t broken as he beat the Inverness goalkeeper.

In between those goals, the Gorgie side had claims for a penalty – not without justification – when Elliot, about to pull the trigger a few yards from goal, was clearly pulled back by David Proctor. Iain Brines, the referee, refused to entertain Hearts’ demands.

The Highlanders never looked likely to regain the impetus they displayed in the early stages of the game as the Edinburgh side moved the ball around with greater flair and belief.

Now Hearts have their sights set on a Co-operative Insurance Cup win against Falkirk in midweek while Inverness head for Celtic Park where, Butcher proclaimed, there will be no need for managerial motivation.

“Going to Parkhead will lift anybody,” he insisted. “It’s a cup-tie; no-one will give us a chance. The pressure’s all on Celtic and we’ll enjoy it.”

Not, their fans will no doubt fear, if they defend as they did yesterday.

Taken from the Herald

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