London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2010-11--> All for 20110219
<-Page <-Team Sat 19 Feb 2011 Hearts 2 Dundee United 1 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Herald ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth Richard Winton auth-> Calum Murray
Palazuelos Ruben [B Douglas 6]
12 of 018 Rudi Skacel 45 ;Marius Zaliukas 88L SPL H

Third place consolidated after double Dutch dismay

By Richard Winton

20 Feb 2011

THE importance of making a good first impression was not lost on Timothy van der Meulen.

Lured from Ajax on the closing day of the January transfer window, the 19-year-old Dundee United defender bounded on to the Tynecastle turf like an excited Labrador but slunk off it with his tail between his legs.

While the pre-match attention had been on Andy Webster's second home debut for Hearts, it was the debut appearance of the young Dutchman that became the most definitive narrative of this compelling contest. Thrust into the spotlight when Garry Kenneth strained the medial ligament in his left knee in a collision with Suso Santana just before the interval, van der Meulen's first contribution was to gift the Edinburgh side an equaliser before spending the remainder of the afternoon desperately scrambling to find his bearings amid a combustible second half.

He never found them. It was the teenager's insufficient challenge that allowed Marius Zaliukas to bullet in an 88th-minute winning goal before that chastisement was compounded by team-mate David Goodwillie spurning the opportunity to salvage a point when he missed a stoppage-time penalty. "Timothy could have defended the first goal better and should have attacked the ball better for the second," said Peter Houston, confessing that he had little option but to throw him into that environment. "He's young and has not played a lot of first-team football, but he's got to learn about the Scottish game. In Holland he can bring it down and play passes, but here sometimes you've got to put your head on it or foot through it, but I've no worries that we can get him right."

While judging the Dutchman solely culpable for Hearts' equaliser would be perhaps penal, van der Meulen was, at the very least, an accessory. Stephen Elliott's run should have been disturbed before he was allowed to fire in a drive, while a goalkeeper of Dusan Pernis's ability would expect to do better than spill the shot, but van der Meulen's hesitancy – when he should have lashed the loose ball clear – allowed Rudi Skacel to dash in from behind and bundle across the goal line.

It was a goal that had been coming. Even with Kenneth on the pitch, United had been living dangerously, with the captain – who is expected to miss three weeks – guilty of gifting the most glaring of Hearts opportunities when, under pressure from Suso, his attempted drag back succeeded only in dragging the ball into the path of Skacel, who accelerated clear but allowed Pernis to thwart him with a tame finish. It was not the first time the Slovakian goalkeeper had denied Hearts, either, saving with his legs after Suso's coruscating break down the left both Keith Watson and Paul Dixon prone on the turf and blocking from both Andy Driver and Elliott as time ticked down.

"It's no good for the heart," said a relieved Jim Jefferies. "I think United knew if they lost it would be very difficult to finish third, but we probably had the better chances and nobody could say we didn't deserve it, even though they started better."

Indeed, there was an enthusiasm and desire about United's early work and that brisk tempo appeared to catch Hearts by surprise. The visitors had already found the net inside two minutes – Douglas's teasing near-post corner being bundled in before scorer Goodwillie was adjudged to have handled – when their enterprising efforts were rewarded after six minutes; Goodwillie's angled delivery was met by Douglas, whose diagonal run had taken him into position to spiral a header beyond Kello's grasp.

However, whether through design or circumstance, Houston's side were a more subdued attacking force after those opening minutes. While they sporadically buzzed around the final third, causing problems particularly in wide areas, United forged precious few genuine goalscoring opportunities and spurned those that came their way. Kenneth headed wide from a promising position; Prince Buaben broke clear but shot into the side net when a square ball to Goodwillie seemed more judicious; and van der Meulen rattled a half-volley high into the United supporters.

But none were clearer than their final chance. Douglas's deep diagonal found the run of David Robertson, who had manoeuvred himself in front of Ruben Palazuelos and drew a foul. As Calum Murray brandished a red card at the Spaniard, a couple of Hearts players goaded the waiting Goodwillie and the striker's subsequent penalty was hard and low but too close to Marian Kello. His awkward attempt from the rebound was equally awry. "Football can be cruel at times," reflected a rueful Houston. "I don't think we deserved to lose, but I was delighted with the players and take more positives than when we beat Hibs 3-0."

Taken from the Herald

<-Page <-Team Sat 19 Feb 2011 Hearts 2 Dundee United 1 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © |