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 Paul Forsyth auth-> Brian Winter
[G Munro 17]
9 of 009 Kevin Kyle pen 25L SPL H

Thistle keep away run intact

Published Date: 19 December 2010
By Paul Forsyth
Hearts 1
Kyle 25 pen

Inverness CT 1
Munro 18

IF HEARTS are at all down about missing the chance to draw level with Celtic in the SPL, they shouldn't be. They are not the first to be denied by Inve rness Caledonian Thistle, and they won't be the last, but they stretched the Highlanders' famous away record to breaking point here.

By the end of this one, they were queuing up to snatch a winner, desperately piling bodies into the box in an effort to secure their seventh consecutive win, but for every shot, every header that rained in on the visitors' goal, there was an outstretched leg or a save to frustrate them.

Something had to give, and in the end, it was Hearts' winning run that obliged. They trail Celtic by two points (with two more games played), while Inverness can claim to have completed a calendar year without a defeat on their travels. Not since November 2009 have Terry Butcher's side lost an away match, and you can see why. Russell Duncan even had the chance to steal a winner in time added on, but that would have been a gross injustice. Marian Kello recognised as much with a competent parry.

All in all, it was a stirring spectacle in which Inverness took the lead through Grant Munro, Kevin Kyle equalised from the penalty spot and Hearts spent the rest of the afternoon growing increasingly desperate in their search for a winner. Inverness strained every sinew to keep them at bay, as they have done for much of this season, and were rewarded with a point that consolidates their place in fourth spot.

What a relief that this one didn't fall victim to the weather. The pitch was fine, as were the pavements around the ground, and only a few mounds of snow by the perimeter fence indicated that there had been a problem. All that the players had to contend with were the biting temperatures, and it was Hearts who were slower to adjust. By the time Ismael Bouzid was hobbling off with a back injury that no amount of spraying and rubbing could ease, his team already were a goal down. Duncan's free kick from wide on the left was headed goalwards by Munro, and although it wasn't the most convincing effort, Rooney did enough in the six-yard area to distract the goalkeeper.

Both these teams have produced their best results on the road so Caley Thistle's early lead should have come as no great surprise. With four across the back and five across the middle, they set about smothering all that Hearts had to offer.

When Nick Ross wriggled free of two or three opponents just outside the box, he had an opportunity to double the visitors' lead, but his shot was straight at the goalkeeper.

Hearts, of course, were not about to let this continue and gradually set about asserting themselves in the final third. Although it was a penalty that brought them their equaliser, few were inclined to begrudge them it. If Kevin Kyle was not impeded when he rose to meet a cross at the back post, Stephen Elliott certainly was as he latched on to the knockdown. Ryan Esson, the Inverness goalkeeper, was booked for bringing him down, and Kyle promptly sent him the wrong way from 12 yards.

The goal transformed Hearts' mood. Suddenly, they were up for it, with Kyle almost adding a second just a couple of minutes later. The centre forward took the sting out of a long ball with his big toe only to hit the sidenet from close range. Then David Templeton, earlier booked for diving, drifted inside from his berth on the left wing and cracked the outside of a post with the sweetest of hits.

It was clear by now that this was quite a game, played at pace, and with no holds barred. Big Ross Tokely was soon doing a passable impersonation of his manager when he returned from a touchline visit with his head bandaged. Ryan Stevenson, on for Bouzid, came close with a thumping shot that Esson was able to parry, and Hearts also threatened with a sweeping move on the counterattack. Ruben Palazuelos delivered a probing pass from the halfway line, and Rudi Skacel flicked it cutely into Templeton's path. Homing in on the near post, the Hearts winger opened his body and looked for the far one, but his curling shot slipped wide.

Rooney had the ball in Hearts' net, only to see it ruled out by an offside flag, but most of his team's work had to be done at the other end. Templeton was a menace was on the left, Ian Black was outstanding in midfield and Kyle was all but unplayable at times, his delicate touch complementing those physical attributes. The control with which he brought one long ball out of the sky set up the chance of the match, but he was denied first by Tokely and then by Munro's last-gasp lunge. A few minutes later, his neck muscles were twitching again, this time after a header that nearly caught Esson napping. The goalkeeper fumbled, but recovered before the ball could spin over the line.

By this time, Hearts were giving their opponents a battering, without delivering the knockout blow. Templeton smacked a crisp shot narrowly wide of the upright, and when Skacel pulled clear of the defence, his low shot from an acute angle met with the same fate. Only when Esson saved a header by Marius Zaliukas in the dying seconds were Inverness able to breathe easy.

It had been a long wait.


Kello Jonsson Bouzid (19) Zaliukas Palazuelos Black Mrowiec Elliott (83) Skacel Templeton (y) Kyle

Subs used

Stevenson (19)

Elliot (83)


David Templeton (Hearts)

Given Terry Butcher's praise, Hearts can expect a bid from Barcelona shortly


The first goal was scored when Ismael Bouizid was receiving treatment

Referee: B Winter. Attendance: 12,994


Esson (y) Duff (y) Tokely Munro Shinnie Hayes (84) Duncan Cox Ross (89) Foran (76) Rooney

Subs used

Sutherland (76)

Odhiambo (84)

Innes (89)

Taken from the Scotsman

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