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

'Dynamite' sub Kyle has a blast

Published Date: 20 September 2010
HE MAY not have hit the back of the net himself, but Kevin Kyle's introduction to the fray in Inverness proved just as crucial as Hearts came from behind to earn a battling 3-1 victory.
The big striker was brought on as a first-half substitute for the injured Ian Black at the Caledonian Stadium, with Hearts switching to a 4-4-2 formation in the process.

Those two factors combined to give the Tynecastle side a more balanced look t o their play - and all three points with which to make the long journey back down the A9.

Kyle's presence at set-pieces caused havoc among the Caley backline, the former Killie man throwing himself forward like a demolition ball to try to get his head on to the end of corners and free-kicks.

And his fearless approach paid dividends for the visiting Jambos as, with his side trailing to an Eric Odhiambo goal, he put so much pressure on Chris Innes in the race to reach a David Templeton free-kick that the Caley defender ended up slicing past his own goalkeeper.

The fact that he didn't get the final touch did nothing to dampen Kyle's celebrations though, the hitman wheeling away from the gutted Innes to take the plaudits and one of the first to give him a high five was Calum Elliot.

In the hour or so that they were on the park together, they certainly looked as if they can forge a fruitful partnership up front and team-mate Ryan Stevenson thought that the pair looked "dynamite" when paired in attack, but believes that there is much more to Kyle's game than the big man is given credit for.

Stevenson, who went on to put Hearts in front with his first goal for the club since signing at the beginning of this year, said: "The thing about Kevin is that many think he is just a big boy and it is all about his headers but on the ground as well he is a very good player.

"Kevin has played at the highest level in the English Premiership and at international level and he is a great out for us. If you are ever struggling you know he will hold the ball up for the team.

"I am sure he was disappointed not to be playing but when he came on he answered the question that the manager has put towards him and he was absolutely outstanding and he and Calum Elliot up front were dynamite."

And Stevenson believes that if Kyle can continue to impress up front for Hearts it would make it extremely difficult for Scotland boss Craig Levein to ignore his contribution.

"I don't see any reason why Kyle cannot earn a Scotland recall and I don't know why any of the Hearts boys can't push their way into the international set-up," he said.

"I see some of the Dundee United lads have done that and although Kevin i s not always scoring, he is assisting and he set up two goals against Caley Thistle and I think he was tapping the first one in if it was not an own goal. He is always in there causing defenders problems all day long.

"There are other players who can be pushing for Scotland honours as Calum has started the season pretty well and I think there is no reason why a number of Hearts boys shouldn't be looking to push themselves into the Scotland squad.

"Craig Levein has drafted in a few United lads and that gives players a huge boost to see that he is not just looking at Old Firm players and players down in England but he is willing to give players who are playing well in the SPL a shout and Kev's got every chance of doing that."

Eggert Jonsson was again in fine form as he was named captain in the absence of both Marius Zaliukas and Lee Wallace, while Kyle started the match on the bench.

Ruben Palazuelos was again playing at left-back and when he conceded a free-kick out wide in 12 minutes, Caley almost cashed in from Jonny Hayes' ball in, Adam Rooney glancing a header goalward, only to find Marian Kello had got himself into the right place in the right time to collect.

Caley came even closer when another free-kick was swung in by Hayes and Innes got his head to it, although this time Kello really had to work for it, diving over to his right to catch with both hands.

Black was forced off by an ankle injury just after the half-hour mark, giving Kyle the nod to come on, but within just a few minutes Caley got their opener when Stuart Duff spotted the run from Odhiambo and played his team-mate in with a diagonal ball.

It looked like Odhiambo had fluffed his lines, but somehow managed to tap his mis-hit ball away from Kello and then dance out wide, pulling defenders with him, before slotting into the net.

But Hearts were level before the break and the goal came from another free-kick, this time Hayes being shown a yellow card after bringing down David Templeton.

The young Hearts player sent a dangerous ball in from the left-hand side and it was the unfortunate Caley defender Innes who got the final touch as he and Kyle both rose with their heads.

Templeton did well after the break, trying to beat the keeper with a cheeky, dipping shot, only for a deflection to take the ball behind for a corner that came to nothing, although Kyle could perhaps consider himself unlucky not to win a spot-ki ck from the set-piece after having his jersey almost ripped off by Innes in the box.

Hearts did get their noses in front when Elliot found Kyle on the edge of the box and the big striker cushioned the ball down to his right for Ryan Stevenson, who was left with the task of rifling the ball into the net.

Caley could have hit back a few minutes later when Hayes' ball deep to the far post found Nick Ross and his curling effort could only have been a matter of inches wide of Kello's left-hand post.

Palazuelos was called on soon after to clear off the line after Hayes' corner had been flicked on by Innes but at the other end Hearts had another decent shout for a penalty in 65 minutes when Elliot appeared to be manhandled to the ground by Innes but again whistler Iain Brines waved away the visitors' claims.

There would have been an uproar seconds later if Caley had gone straight back up the park and scored and the referee was probably fortunate that Rooney could only fire wildly over the bar.

Hearts put the game beyond Caley in the 69th minute when Kyle did well to hold the ball up long enough to allow Suso to race past him on the right. The Spaniard then crossed the ball into the area and Elliot was there to guide it home.

Caley manager Terry Butcher acknowledged that Kyle had been the big difference between the two sides and said: "I thought we did very well in the first half and more than matched Hearts, so I was pleased. We had a couple of chances as well.

"When we conceded the goal just before half-time, then it's a different story. I thought that the second half was pretty open up until we conceded the second goal, and the manner in which we conceded the two goals in the second half was very disappointing.

"The big difference was Kevin Kyle coming on. We spoke before the game to the players about Kyle and when he came on he was a presence - he bullied us and upset our back four.

"In the end, his introduction gave them the platform to go on and win the game."

Taken from the Scotsman

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