London Hearts Supporters Club

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Paulo Sergio <-auth BILL LECKIE auth-> Anastassios Kakos
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Tottenham 0 Hearts 0 (Agg: 5-0)

From BILL LECKIE at White Hart Lane

Published: 25 Aug 2011

THEIR fans partied like they were five up, not five down.

There were spells when their team played like it too.

And all you could think was: If only.

What if Hearts had set about Spurs a week ago the way they did last night.

What if they'd defended this doggedly, closed down this tigerishly, forced them into so many errors at the back.

Who knows? Maybe if they HAD done all these things, 'Arry would just have sent out all the big guns and blown them away here.

But at least they would have made him sweat.

At least this game would have been more than one that just SOUNDED like it mattered.

Anyone who turned up not knowing the first-leg score would have felt the atmosphere and sworn the tie was in the balance.

They'd have heard the non-stop noise from the Jambo-packed away end and thought a shock was on the cards.

They'd have watched Paulo Sergio's side going toe to toe on Premiership turf and refused to believe they could possibly have been brushed aside so meekly seven nights before.

They were though. Which is why for all the good these 90 minutes did their self-esteem and how much it repaired their image in the eyes of the watching world, the fact is it was all too little, way too late.

Still, they could either mope about it and cave in again.

Or they could do what they did here and give their fans a show to remember.

It's to their credit that they dug in and made it the latter.

Young striker Gordon Smith smashed one against the underside of Carlo Cudicini's bar.

Keeper Jamie MacDonald made a terrific stop from teenager Harry Kane's penalty.

Andy Webster and Marius Zaliukas stood up to be counted in central defence, young Scott Robinson was a star in a reborn midfield and little David Templeton was so much more of a threat than he'd been in the home leg.

By the time ten minutes had gone by, they'd already put more into the game than in the whole sorry occasion back home.

Their fans were tremendous, twirling scarves above their heads and keeping up a constant wall of noise.

They even got an ovation from the home stands when they asked manager Redknapp to give them a wave — and when he did, broke into a chorus of 'Arry Is A Jambo.

Smith's thunderous 12th minute effort against the woodwork was just the proof they needed that it hadn't been a wasted journey.

When MacDonald frustrated Spurs from the spot, they nearly took the roof off.

Just before the half-hour, the Hearts backline went to sleep for once as left back Andros Townsend put debutant Kane through and the keeper pulled him down in full flight.

The tall youngster — one of five rookies given a chance last night by Redknapp — dusted himself down and grabbed the ball.

But down to his right went MacDonald to pull off a stop that must have made the yellow card he'd just got well worth it.

From then on, he and his mates never looked like losing.

They kept it tight, kept possession well and broke when they could, Rudi Skacel and Templeton always looking to nip in between man mountain defenders.

Behind the goal, those travelling fans kept up their gallows humour chant of We're Gonna Win 6-0 — and while there was never a prayer of that happening, what they saw must have felt like some sort of moral victory.

As news filtered through in the second half that the Old Firm had both crashed out, they celebrated as if it hadn't dawned that they too were on their way on to the Europa League scrapheap.

When it was over they roared Bring On The Hibees — and if their heroes play like this come derby time on Sunday they're going to be hell of a tough to beat.

Back-to-back goalless draws at Killie and White Hart Lane have shown they WERE capable of learning the lessons Sergio demanded after last week's loss.

Who knows, maybe he's also learned more from their reaction than he would have had they pushed Spurs all the way.

Maybe he's now more able to separate the men from the boys in his squad.

Last week, they slunk down the Tynie tunnel with heads bowed after letting themselves and their club down badly.

This time, they marched to the away end with chests puffed, hands clapping above their heads in appreciation of the amazing backing they'd been given.

Even if the margin of defeat was still the same, they had certainly starting winning their pride back.

And hey, they can always say they were the last Scottish team left in Europe — even if it was only for 21 minutes.

The Sun

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