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|Sat 20 Nov 2010 Hearts 2 Hamilton Academical 0
|Scotsman ------ Report
|Jim Jefferies 2nd
|Rudi Skacel 32 ;David Templeton 52
Hearts 2-0 Hamilton: JJ juggernaut gathers speed
With each passing week Hearts look more and more unstoppable. They continue to surf the crest of a wave which has carried them to third in the SPL and dispensed with Hamilton thanks to two genius goals from Rudi Skacel and David Templeton.
As the juggernaut powered forward towards another three points, Kello was bringing up the rear. As Tynecastle paid tribute to the legendary Jim Cruickshank with Kello tying a yellow jersey to the back of his net in honour of his predecessor, the Slovakian's influence on the final scoreline was entirely fitting. He saved at the feet of Damain Casalinuovo late in the match and then produced a stupefying penalty save from Simon Mensing as an encore.
"You can't blame Mensing, it was a world-class save," said Jefferies. "The Slovakian international goalkeeper must be a right good keeper if Marian is only on standby for them. What a fantastic save it was, he is easily an international class goalkeeper. I know he's been very proud of the clean sheets recently.
"How fitting was it that Marian came out with Jim Cruickshank's jersey and saves a penalty? I played with Jim, I've seen him do that time and time again. It was right in the corner, not down the middle, so it was a great save. It couldn't have worked out better for Marian to save a penalty on the day we paid tribute to Jim.
"Two-nil is a funny score so it was a really important save at an important time. We were being sloppy with clearances from defence. At that stage you should just get the ball cleared and play percentages. Once we saved the penalty, we were unlucky not to get a third goal near the end.
"When balls were played in Hamilton were really concerned about Kevin Kyle. He was man-handled at times and we could have got a penalty. I thought Hamilton would make it hard. Nobody gave them a chance and they plugged away but we gave a good performance.
"I knew it would be hard-fought.
Motherwell, when they were third, lost 1-0 at home to Hamilton. They're a stuffy team to play against. They were getting on the ball too much in the first ten minutes. When games are as tight as that you look for a wee bit of quality and Skacel provided it.
"Things were going to plan at half-time and I said if we get the second we could go on from there. The second was another great finish and after that we looked like going for 3-0. Then after a certain time the players were conscious of trying to see it out." In that regard Hearts were entirely professional. They scored first on 32 minutes when a bouncing through ball evaded Hamilton's Martin Canning and landed in front of Skacel. He struck an instinctive dipping volley which soared over goalkeeper Tomas Cerny and into the net. It was a second of genius quick thinking matched by the quality of the execution.
Hearts finished the game as a contest when Templeton arced a beautiful finish into the top corner seven minutes after the interval. Kyle's header from Skacel's corner was cleared straight to the diminutive winger, who returned it with interest past the helpless Cerny.
Kello's block on Casalinuovo and subsequent penalty save from Mensing put the icing on Jefferies' birthday cake. The manager stood stooped over the edge of his technical area, veins bulging from his forehead, during the closing stages. It was impossible not to admire his commitment to preserving Hearts' impressive defensive record.
"Kello made vital saves, not too many but important ones," observed Billy Reid, the Hamilton manager. ".They had two great finishes, we had the best chance but Kello saved it and we missed the penalty. It was well struck but the goalie saved it. Simon had eight penalties out of eight before Saturday so I don't think we can have a go at him.
"I don't think the heads went down then, we kept trying to get back into it. At no stage were Hearts miles better than us but they're always a threat banging balls up to Kevin Kyle. That's how they play their game."
Regardless of how potent your attack is, the last line of defence is equally vital. In Kello, Hearts have a goalkeeper to be proud of. One who thoroughly merits being a successor to such a luminary as Cruickshank.
"It's not just the penalty, the whole game meant a lot for me because of Jim Cruickshank. I was very emotional but sometimes you get better or you get worse. I was quite mad in a few moments but because of the situation I felt a connection with Jim. I really wanted a clean sheet for him.
"In previous years I have had some good games but I think I can still improve my game. I want to give my best performances in the future and be better. I'm happy with my form right now but I'm the kind of person who wants something more. Hopefully, I can do better.
"We got a slap when we lost to Kilmarnock at home. We came to training and got shouted at by Jim Jefferies. We started to do things properly like we are supposed to."We got results after that.
"Sometimes, screaming at players is not helpful. Jim's passion is there but sometimes there is somebody shouting at you and you can't do anything. I don't expect him to change. This is his personality."
Jefferies' personality, as Kello puts it, is driving Hearts on to perfection right now. If the prosperity continues he might still be hollering out from the Tynecastle dugout at 70.
|Sat 20 Nov 2010 Hearts 2 Hamilton Academical 0