|Report Index--> 2010-11--> All for 20101113
|Sat 13 Nov 2010 St Johnstone 0 Hearts 2
|Daily Record ------ Report
|Jim Jefferies 2nd
|Kevin Kyle pen 63 ;Ryan Stevenson 94
St Johnstone 0 Hearts 2
Nov 15 2010 By David McCarthy
IT'S one thing beating Hibs and Celtic in matches where adrenaline is coursing through the veins, urging you to greater heights.
It is another thing entirely to go to Perth in front of just 4000 freezing fans and try to perform on a pitch that feels like porridge beneath your studs.
But Hearts did just that on Saturday and in chalking up their fifth win in their last six outings they laid claim to third place in the SPL. If they keep this up they'll be tough to dislodge from the "best of the rest" position.
Not that they were sensational against St Johnstone.
They were resilient rather than brilliant but got the job done and notched up another clean sheet - their fifth in the six games since captain Marius Zaliukas was restored to the team.
The Lithuanian is vital to this team's wellbeing, he's the glue that holds Jim Jefferies' defence together, and at the weekend they gave St Johnstone just one sniff all afternoon and substitute Sam Parkin blew it.
Zaliukas was vital at one end but at the other young David Templeton's ability to run at defenders with the ball tied to his toes, especially on THAT pitch, was the only thing to get the pulses racing.
One at the back and one up front were Hearts' biggest influences. But the man in the middle was the guy who decided the destination of the points.
The match was meandering along for just over an hour with Hearts the slightly better outfit when Mike Tumilty jolted it out of the rut it had fallen into.
This referee doesn't thrust himself into the limelight too often, which is a pretty good sign he doesn't screw up every week.
But he did on Saturday. And Saints paid the penalty.
What was the whistler thinking of when he blew for a spot-kick against Jamie Adams after a Templeton free-kick struck him on a hand that was by his side and made no movement towards the ball? It was a cruel blow for the home side and just a few days after Hearts should have conceded a penalty for Ryan Stevenson's blatant handball against Celtic, it knocked on the head Vladimir Romanov's long-held theory that the SFA are out to get them at every opportunity.
Hearts boss Jefferies admitted his team got lucky with the controversial decision.
He said: "It was a break for us, I can see why Derek McInnes was a bit aggrieved. The free-kick hit someone's hand and the referee was there.
"I felt sorry for both teams because even from the stand the pitch looked bad, and once you stepped on it it was 10 times worse than it looked.
"You could see the ball stopping dead, passing was hard and it was just a terrible surface to try and expect a good game."
The penalty wasn't the only big decision to go Hearts' way either. Adrian Mrowiec was a lucky boy after just 13 minutes when he appeared to tug back Collin Samuel as the striker threatened to home in on goal.
On another day a foul and a red card could have followed but Tumilty awarded neither.
Hearts took advantage and at no stage looked like losing. It's just that they didn't look like winning either until Kyle blasted the spot-kick high past Saints keeper Peter Enckelman.
After that they controlled the match and only gave up one chance. Peter MacDonald's astute pass found fellow sub Parkin in acres of space inside the box with only Marian Kello to beat.
Somehow Parkin stubbed the ball into the ground and when it bounced up the keeper was able to claw it behind for a corner.
That was as close as St Johnstone came but manager McInnes' team defended better than they have for weeks and only lost a second goal in the dying seconds as they pushed forward looking for an equaliser.
Hearts broke from defence and when Calum Elliot scarpered up to the halfway line and slung a diagonal pass into Ryan Stevenson's path it got the finish the move deserved. The midfielder drilled the ball emphatically behind Enckelman and it was over.
Victory completed a terrific week for the Jambos although Jefferies had some sympathy for Saints.
He said: "Things haven't been going St Johnstone's way because I don't think their run of results is doing them justice.
"On our own side it has just finished off a great week. The players have done great on the back of two good wins.
"We battled away and did what we needed to on a pitch like that to win the game. What I said at the start of the season was with the squad we have Hearts should be competing for third.
"I'm not saying we are going to finish there but we should be challenging for it."
St Johnstone have less lofty ambitions and their cause isn't being helped by the state of their pitch.
McInnes said: "The surface didn't lend itself to silky football but it was a competitive match with nothing in it.
"I know the club is doing all it can to get the pitch in better condition but it is a real concern and we can't hide from that. It's not ideal."
Nor was Tumilty's display but McInnes was controlled in his criticism. He said: "I would suggest we didn't beat ourselves and Hearts didn't beat us, I thought a key decision cost us.
"It was the wrong decision without question. It's a mistake from the referee. I am not going to lambast him but it has cost us.
"Jamie is at the end of the wall, whether his hand has been deemed to have been in an unnatural position I don't know.
"But I don't know where your hands are supposed to be when you are standing with them at your side. Ian Black has run across him so he has seen the ball really late.
"And as he has jumped the ball has hit his hand below his waist. It is never a penalty in your life. It was a poor free-kick that has become a penalty kick.
"It was a mistake and if Mike sees it again he'll see it was a mistake.
"Unfortunately we have to take it on the chin."
Player ratings: St Johnstone v Hearts
Nov 15 2010
Peter Enckelman 6
Not too busy but did everything competently.
Alan Maybury 6
Plenty of effort but foul on Templeton led to opener.
Steven Anderson 7
Combined well at the back with Duberry.
Michael Duberry 6
Stood up to threat of Kyle but passing was poor.
Danny Grainger 6
Did his best to contain Templeton's runs.
Jamie Adams 7
Strong presence and was unlucky with penalty.
Cleveland Taylor 5
The winger has pace but his delivery was woeful.
Jody Morris 7
Helped keep Hearts subdued in midfield for long spells.
Murray Davidson 6
Didn't impose himself as much as he usually does.
Liam Craig 4
Wasn't at his best. Injury saw him subbed at break.
Collin Samuel 5
Solo striker got nothing out of the Hearts rearguard.
Subs: Peter MacDonald - replaced Craig and did well enough, 4. Sam Parkin - missed a sitter, 2. Stevie May - youngster replaced the tiring Adams late on, 3.
Marian Kello 6
Only had one save to make in an easy afternoon.
Eggert Jonsson 7
Likes a tackle and wasn't afraid to put his foot in.
Ismael Bouzid 6
Didn't have too many tough questions asked of him.
Marius Zaliukas 7
Hearts look much more solid now he is back.
Ruben Palazuelos 6
Makeshift left-back got forward plenty of times.
Adrian Mrowiec 6
Got away with tug on Samuel but played well after that.
Ian Black 7
Got stronger the longer the game went on.
David Templeton 8
A couple of mazy runs underlined his talent.
Rudi Skacel 6
Roved around behind the strikers to good effect.
Stephen Elliot 6
Quiet afternoon but gradually grew into the game.
Kevin Kyle 6
Focal point of most attacks and netted the penalty.
Subs: Ryan Stevenson - took his goal well, 6. Calum Elliot - made the second goal with a great pass, 5. Craig Thomson - on for last few minutes, 2.
MEN WHO MATTER
Set out to be harder to beat with five in the middle and it worked for long spells as Saints matched Hearts in every aspect until poor penalty decision hurt his team. Didn't create enough chances though. 6
Got it spot on. The defence looks rock solid, Skacel adds drive in the engine room and with Templeton running riot in the wide areas, Hearts are making chances. No need to tinker and smart enough to leave it. 7
It wasn't a great game and it wasn't a great performance but Hearts got the job done again and are looking strong. They just edged the contest but Saints badly need a break and didn't get one. They need more firepower but when McInnes gets his injured players fit they will be fine.
MAN IN BLACK
Mike Tumilty could have sent Mrowiec off early on and got penalty award horribly wrong. 4
Taken from the Daily Record
|Sat 13 Nov 2010 St Johnstone 0 Hearts 2