London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2010-11--> All for 20110129
<-Page <-Team Sat 29 Jan 2011 Hearts 1 St Johnstone 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Moira Gordon auth-> Crawford Allan
6 of 009 Rudi Skacel 2L SPL H

Andrew Driver return is icing on cake for Hearts as Rudi Skacel goal seals win

Published Date: 31 January 2011
A VICTORY for the majority shareholder to witness, three points to take them within overtaking distance of Rangers and the sight of Andrew Driver back darting at defences, making mazy runs into the box and supplying the strikeforce. This game couldn't be considered a classic but, from a Hearts perspective, it still offered reasons to be satisfied.
With Lee Wallace already back to the kind of form which elevated him to the national team after his lengthy lay off, the Tynecastle side also fielded Suso Santana in the starting line-up for the first time since November. But it was the return of Driver, a 67th minute substitute, that really sparked excitement in the stands.

By then, Hearts were already leading, Rudi Skacel's goal in the third minute giving them the advantage, and they were unfortunate not to be further ahead but it was the introduction of the winger which really seemed to lift spirits, which had perhaps flagged slightly following the midweek defeat to Celtic.

"I think maybe Driver is a good signing for us," said Ruben Palazuelos, who is himself enjoying a new lease of life having been relieved of left-back duties and is now back pulling strings in midfield. "He has come back after being out for a while, a bit like Suso. They are very big players. But it has been a good day for Andrew. He did very well and I hope he continues to do well."

The 23-year-old has made only five competitive appearances for the Gorgie side since November 2009, his last coming in April last year. But in the final ten minutes, in particular, he reprised the role which has long-since delighted Hearts fans and tortured opponents. He produced a couple of bursts into the St Johnstone box, the second of them a mazy run which had punters shifting to the edge of their seats, and well-weighted cut-backs that his colleagues couldn't capitalise upon.

"It is also important for the team to have Andrew Driver in it," said Palazuelos. "It is hard for any player when they can't train or play and even more difficult for Andrew because he has been out for almost a year. Now he just has to forget what has happened with his injuries. He is back and hopefully he will do very well with the team."

The team have been doing pretty well in his absence, though, said the Spaniard. "We played well when we had some big players out and that shows we have a very strong squad with very good players. We are very well positioned in third position with Kilmarnock 15 points behind us. We want to finish in third place and to qualify for Europe, although it will be good if we can stay close to Rangers. It is important to keeping trying to win games and then we can have a look and see what happens in May."

Bouncing back from the midweek loss at Celtic Park, they have succumbed to only one league defeat in 13 games, the only other major disappointment since October coming at the hands of Saturday's opponents St Johnstone in the Scottish Cup. But such is the magnitude of Hearts intentions this term, the matter of revenge for that result will have been secondary in their list of incentives at the weekend.

They knew that three points would take them to within two points of second-placed Rangers and give them the opportunity to leapfrog them when they meet at Ibrox on Wednesday. With that in mind, they started at a tempo and with a drive that the visitors could not match. Which, given the run Derek McInnes' men have been on, was no mean feat. This was their first loss in ten games and Skacel's goal was only the second conceded in six outings. But they just couldn't match Hearts' energy and movement and, having fallen behind so early, they were always struggling.

"First-half, we just didn't start," admitted St Johnstone's Liam Craig. "You can not come here and lose a goal inside five minutes and expect to get much out of the game."

McInnes reacted to the poor start by switching tactics and personnel, stringing five across the midfield and replacing Sam Parkin and Alan Maybury with Cleveland Taylor and young Steven May. It was intended to spark life into the side but, although they improved as the match went on, signs of a breakthrough were never very apparent.

"Something had to be done and it could have been any one of us who came off. The manager did what he thought he had to do and it was just frustrating because we came with a gameplan and it was out of the window inside five minutes."

Having had four clean sheets in the last five games, the way they conceded the goal was equally frustrating. From a poor Jody Morris corner which went straight to Marian Kello, the Hearts keeper initiated the break with some good, early distribution. Craig Thomson raced up the right flank and delivered the ball into the central area where Skacel burst from deep to bury beyond Enckleman.

The best of the other chances fell to Skacel, who should have scored from a great position in the second half, and then Stephen Elliott from Driver's supply late on. But no further goals came and the only other chance Hearts fans had to get to their feet and cheer was when Driver made his return. And when the final whistle sounded to signal another three points.


Lee Wallace (Hearts)

The full-back is back in the kind of form that will attract the attention of national team manager Craig Levein. Strong in defence, he was at his marauding best offensively, as well.

Taken from the Scotsman

<-Page <-Team Sat 29 Jan 2011 Hearts 1 St Johnstone 0 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © |