London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Paul Forsyth auth-> Iain Brines
9 of 016 Rudi Skacel 32 ;David Templeton 52 L SPL H

Kello pays Hearts-felt tribute

By Paul Forsyth
Hearts 2
Skacel 32; Templeton 52

Hamilton 0

WITH every passing week, Hearts find new ways to win. Pretty, ugly, a little lucky: you name it, they have done it. Yesterday's hard-fought triumph, their sixth in seven matches, arrived courtesy of individual brilliance at both ends. Rudi Skacel and David Templeton each scored exceptional goals, and on a day that the club mourned the passing of a much-loved former goalkeeper, a penalty was saved by Marian Kello.

A combination of industry and inspiration earned Hearts their fourth consecutive 2-0 victory. If this was more like the defeat of St Johnstone than that of Celtic and Hibs, it had in common with all three a clean sheet, albeit with a special dimension. Simon Mensing hadn't missed any of his previous eight penalties for Hamilton, but when he stepped up to reduce the deficit with 11 minutes left, he should have known that the fates were against him.

This, after all, was a day when the Hearts supporters paid their respects to Jim Cruickshank, who died on Thursday night. After a minute's silence for the goalkeeper who was a fans' favourite at Tynecastle in the 1960s and 1970s, Kello hung a yellow strip bearing Cruickshank's name in the back of his net. Those inclined to sentiment imagined a nod of approval when he flung himself across the line to turn Jim Goodwin's first-half shot round the post, and then when he blocked a shot by Damian Casalinuovo.

Those, though, were nothing to the save that spared Hearts a fraught finish. When Ruben Palazuelos brought down Flavio Paixao in the box, Mensing brought his flawless record to the table. Although his penalty was the right height for Kello, the Slovakian goalkeeper had to be quick and strong with his outstretched hand.

Play raged on, Kello dusted himself down, and Cruickshank's shirt hung untouched in the goal behind him. It will now be gifted to the family, complete with the signature of every Hearts player.

"It couldn't have worked out better for Marian to save a penalty on the day that we paid our respects to Jim," said Jefferies. "It was a world-class save. I'm tellng you, the Slovakia keeper must be a great keeper if Marian is only on standby."

Although Jefferies opted for the same personnel who have served him so well in recent weeks, there was an alteration to the strategy that had taken so long to bear fruit in Perth the week before. Perhaps anticipating similar resistance from a stuffy Hamilton side, the Hearts manager gave Skacel a central role between Stephen Elliott and Templeton, all of whom were charged with supporting Kevin Kyle.

If truth be told, they were slow to find their way behind the visitors' defence, but in circumstances like these, Skacel is a godsend. Twice he caught the Hamilton goalkeeper by surprise with an unlikely effort. First, he pounced on a half-cleared cross to squeeze in a shot that the wrong-footed Tomas Cerny did well to block.

Then came his goal, just after half an hour, an instinctive first-time blow from an impossible position that you would miss if you blinked. The Czech midfielder was ambling towards the corner of Hamilton's penalty area when the ball fell into his path and sat up nicely. Where others would have put their head down and made for the byeline, Skacel looked up and struck the dropping ball high over Cerny and into the far corner. "When games are as tight as that, you look for a wee bit of quality, and Skacel provided it," said Jefferies.

Neither team seemed altogether ready for the 1pm kick-off, scheduled to avoid a clash with the rugby, but the interval was good for Hearts, who emerged from it with renewed intent. Within three minutes, Ismael Bouzid had fresh-aired a chance, and Templeton had joined Skacel on the scoresheet. It was another inspired effort, this time from just outside the penalty area. When the ball broke to him, after a Kyle header was cleared, the young winger leaned back and, with his right instep, curled a dipping shot over the goalkeeper and into the top left-hand corner.

Hamilton now had no option but to be more adventurous. Even before the Paixao twins were introduced midway through the second half, Accies were fashioning their best chance of the match. Dougie Imrie rushed into the channel, squared a perfect ball to the advancing Casalinuovo, only to find that Kello was rushing from his line, quickly enough to block the shot. "Because of the situation, the connection with Jim, I wanted a clean sheet for him," said Kello. And he got it.

Skacel (76)
S Elliott (84)
Kyle (84)

Subs used
Stevenson (76)
C Elliot (84)
C Thomson (84)


Marian Kello (Hearts)
Didn't have many saves to make, but when he did, they were outstanding.

The audacious volley with which Skacel opened the scoring was special.

Referee: Iain Brines. Attendance: 12,620

Canning (76)
Buchanan (67)
McDonald (67)

Subs used
F Paixao (67)
M Paixao (67)
Gillespie (76)

Taken from the Scotsman

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