London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Sat 18 Dec 2010 Hearts 1 Inverness Caledonian Thistle 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Barry Anderson auth-> Brian Winter
[G Munro 17]
4 of 009 Kevin Kyle pen 25L SPL H

Jambos unable to make second-half dominance count

Published Date: 20 December 2010
THERE was a momentary hint of despondency in the Tynecastle air after Hearts were somehow held to a draw by Inverness.
Taking a point from the spirited Highlanders these days is no bad result, however. The locals' disappointment stemmed from their team's failure to convert relentless second-half pressure into a winning goal, and thereby move level with second-placed Celtic in the SPL.

By the time the Hearts players sauntered down the tunnel, their own heads bowed in frustration, they were being applauded. Supporters have rarely had it better than during the recent scintillating run of six victories from six outings. There is no reason the exhilaration should end just because of one draw. Inverness, of course, are experts in securing results away from home. They have not lost outside the Caledonian Stadium in the league in over a year. That record came mighty close to falling on Saturday during an incessant battering in Gorgie.

As Jim Jefferies noted afterwards, the performance level of his players was exemplary. They did everything but score. On another day, David Templeton could have helped himself to a double, Kevin Kyle and Rudi Skacel likewise. As it was, Grant Munro opened the scoring for Inverness with a downward header after 17 minutes before Kyle planted a penalty beyond Ryan Esson following the goalkeeper's foul on Stephen Elliott.

The open nature of the match suited Hearts better than their guests and, following the equaliser, they monopolised possession through to half-time. The second half became an even more one-sided affair with Templeton, Skacel and Elliott all probing for openings. When they did get in behind the well-drilled Inverness rearguard, their shots either landed off target or were repelled by the impressive Esson.

Inverness carried a fair portion of luck, acknowledged by their manager Terry Butcher at full-time. But for Hearts there were positives aplenty. The notion that maintaining this form will stand them in fine stead will not have been lost on many of the 12,994 crowd.

"It's as good a performance as we've had at home this season," said Jefferies. "I can't fault the players, they gave everything. Their football was good to watch and the effort was great.

"It was just one of those days when it wouldn't go in the back of the net. We had a determination to win the game and at the end of the day it might have cost us.

There's a hunger and desire about us, the players are enjoying their football, you can see that, it's good to watch. The fans could see that too, they're not usually happy with a draw here but they applauded the team off the park."

The opening go al was scored while Ismael Bouzid, the Hearts centre-back, was receiving treatment for a back complaint which eventually forced him off. Zaliukas was caught between covering Bouzid's duties and marking his own man, Munro. "It was Marius' man who was free for the header for their goal," continued Jefferies. "We lost Bouzid and Adrian Mrowiec went back to centre-back and did well."

Kyle's equaliser set the tone for Hearts' domination. Yet for all the control, Inverness almost prised victory at the death when they broke from defence with four players bearing down on two Hearts defenders. Russell Duncan was in possession and opted for glory rather than a pass to a team-mate in space. Marian Kello was up to the task and parried the midfielder's shot before Zaliukas cleared.

"I don't think I'd have gone into Jim's office if we'd won it at the end," laughed Butcher. "It's an incredible achievement for the players to go over a year undefeated away from home. It's just momentum. The belief increased enormously last season. The players felt they were unstoppable in the First Division. This season, the away record has been better than the home record.

"Hearts are a good side. They made a substitution and got stronger. We were hanging on there at the end."

Jefferies said he will consider adding to his squad during the forthcoming January transfer window if a suitable player becomes available. The inference is he is happy with what he has for the moment, particularly in view of players like Andy Driver, Lee Wallace and David Obua returning from injury imminently. Of greater concern may be keeping prying eyes off those responsible for Hearts' recent prosperity. Chief tormentor at the moment is Templeton, who has attracted attention from the Scotland manager Craig Levein among others.

"Temps is on fire but it would take a big offer," said Jefferies. "He's just a young player coming into the team, he just needs to keep his feet on the ground. He's getting stronger, his confidence is high at the moment and he's very consistent. I want nothing for him in the transfer window, he can stay where he is. Somewhere round the corner there will probably be a little dip but hopefully it's a long way off.

"However, it's not just about individuals. He's playing in a team and they're all playing well and working hard for each other. I said to the players that if they keep playing like that then we'll have no problems for the rest of the season."

Taken from the Scotsman

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