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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Richard Winton auth-> Mike Tumilty
6 of 007 Kevin Kyle pen 63 ;Ryan Stevenson 94L SPL A

Jim Jefferies men 'are flying' and now looking beyond top-six place

Richard Winton at McDiarmid Park

14 Nov 2010

"When I came in last season the target was the top six, but this season .

. ." Jim Jefferies paused, wary of stating what was reflected on the television above his head.

This win, a fifth in six matches, has quietly propelled Hearts into third place in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League. Excluding the aberration against Kilmarnock, the Tynecastle side have not conceded during that spell and averaged two goals in each game, ominously submitting their candidature as the best of the rest.

That third place is the summit of their ambition is indicative of the depressing familiar yoke the majority of the division labour under but, given the circumstances, the Old Firm should be the only two teams capable of finishing above Hearts this term. Jefferies' pool was richer in resources than almost any of the other challengers even before a summer of intelligent acquisition added the likes of Kevin Kyle, Rudi Skacel, Adrian Mrowiec and Stephen Elliott to burnish a squad that is arguably stronger – in depth certainly – than that of Rangers.

Granted, the manager has been afforded funds beyond the comprehension of most, but he has used it wisely to address the main shortcoming in his side. On Saturday, Kyle and Elliott were a troublesome pairing in attack – the brawn of the former contrasting with the guile and movement of the latter – and were complemented by the coruscating pace of David Templeton and the loitering threat of Skacel, a combination that St Johnstone deserve credit for quelling in the most part.

Their opening goal may have carried a substantial portion of luck – television pictures have demonstrated Kyle's penalty should not have been awarded – but Templeton's brazen break conceived the initial opportunity. "Forget all that stuff about refereeing decisions. I thought he had a decent game and against Celtic we were the better team," insisted the scorer, referencing the controversy that marred a marvellous performance against Neil Lennon's side.

"We've got a bit of momentum now and are flying. I said at the beginning of the season that we should be disappointed if we don't finish third and now we need to push on and establish a gap, because we're certainly capable."

The sentiment mirrors what Kyle feels about his own performances, too. After a series of disappointing displays, the striker has been revived during an epic week in which he has contributed substantially to three 2-0 victories, got engaged to Lynn – the sister of the player penalised for the penalty, Jamie Adams – and earned a Scotland summons for tomorrow's Faroes friendly.

It has, he admits, been the best week of his football life and has afforded him the chance to ease the pain of his worst, which came in 2002 when part of the Scotland team held to an embarrassing 2-2 draw in Toftir.

"I'd like an opportunity to make that right," Kyle said. "I've had many a sleepless night over that but this came as a surprise. [Craig Levein] obviously didn't see me against St Mirren or Kilmarnock because I wouldn't have got a game for Scotland under-10s. The gaffer pulled me aside and I could tell he needed more from me and since then I've worked my socks off and got my chance."

Adams, recalled from a turbulent loan spell at Dundee late last week, marked his first St Johnstone start by scarring his future brother-in-law in one of several breenging challenges and conceding a unfortunate penalty. "My hands were at my side and if you're in the wall where are you supposed to put them?" he asked, not unreasonably.

However, the midfielder impressed sufficiently to suggest he has a part to play in a team who are in desperate need of some fortune of their own right now ahead of an epic encounter next weekend with fellow strugglers Aberdeen.

Taken from the Herald

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