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Paulo Sergio <-auth Frank Gilfeather auth-> William Collum
[G Tadé 50]
8 of 013 Stephen Elliott 80L SPL A

MacDonald absolved of blame as fumble causes Hearts to flutter

Frank Gilfeather

10 Sep 2011

Paulo Sergio was in forgiving mood last night after his goalkeeper, Jamie MacDonald, gifted Inverness Caledonian Thistle a goal early in the second half of a game that took too long to come to life.

The Hearts shot-stopper's road to contrition started early in the second half as he slipped and slithered across the wet Caledonian Stadium turf in his efforts to connect with Adrian Mrowiec's pass back, a manoeuvre which was, seconds later, to lead to Gregory Tade's opener for the home side. But the keeper's manager refused to be drawn into the blame game, pronouncing that "we're all in this as a team".

"That's football," said Sergio. "It has happened to many goalkeepers before and it is my responsibility and the responsibility of the group. When something good happens we all get credit and when something bad happens we all shoulder the blame. I don't want Jamie to apologise as he did in the dressing room afterwards. It is the responsibility of us all."

Sergio's tactical changes in the second half paid off, Mehdi Taouil creating havoc down the left and David Templeton offering Stephen Elliott opportunities in front of goal.

Indeed, it was Templeton's cross from the right eight minutes from the end that brought the draw, Elliott squeezing himself towards the ball ahead of Thomas Piermayr to guide the ball into the far corner of Ryan Esson's net, the Inverness goalkeeper an agonised onlooker as it trickled across his goal-line.

The first half produced considerably less action, though it was not without its moments, notably Graeme Shinnie's block on the Inverness goal-line from Andy Webster's stabbing effort as Ryan Stevenson flicked Jamie Hamill's corner kick across goal. The home side had their close shaves too, Richie Foran and Gregor Tade giving Webster and Marius Zaliukas plenty to think about.

In truth, however, there was little for the fans of the respective teams to discuss at the hot food stations during the break.

MacDonald's slippery shenanigans six minutes into the second half changed the tone and tempo of this game.

Mrowiec's back-pass to his goalkeeper turned into a nightmare for the visitors, with MacDonald slipping twice in his efforts to clear the ball, allowing Nick Ross to collect and stroke it back into the path of Tade who drilled his shot into the net. Hearts responded immediately, with Templeton, a second-half replacement for Arvydas Novikovas, rattling a blistering strike off the Inverness crossbar.

The introduction of the lively winger injected some oomph into his side, and while it was his cross that led to his side's equaliser, there were chances at the other end as Tade and Foran offered MacDonald opportunities to redeem himself with two outstanding stops.

"I wasn't happy with the way we played in the first half," Sergio added, "which is why we changed the positions with the team to bring more aggression in attack. The result was better than the performance we gave."

For Terry Butcher, the Inverness manager, there was the assertion that his side had dropped two points, although given the spate of the injury problems his physios are overseeing there was an acceptance that a share of the spoils wasn't a bad day's work to take home and mull over.

He said: "Hearts changed to 4-4-2 in the second half and that suited us because we got players in behind them. It's our fault we didn't win, but I'm delighted with this team which really hadn't played together."

Inverness CT (4-4-2): Esson; Piermayr, Tokely, Golobart, G Shinnie; A Shinnie, Davis (Tansey 65), Morrison, Ross (Chippendale 82; Tade, Foran (Sutherland 85). Subs not used: Tuffey, McKay, Gillet. Booked: Foran 34.

Hearts (4-1-4-1): MacDonald; Hamill, Webster, Zaliukas (Taouil 67), Grainger; Mrowiec; Stevenson, Black, Obua (Jonsson 80), Novikovas (Templeton 46); Elliott. Subs: Hamilton, Sutton, Smith, Robinson. Booked: Webster 34, Black 37.

Referee: W Collum Attendance: 4806.

Taken from the Herald

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