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Paulo Sergio <-auth Andrew Smith auth-> Charlie Richmond
6 of 009 Jamie Hamill pen 43 ;Lee Mair og 70L SPL H

No feast, but Hearts serve up flavour of victory for Paulo Sergio

Published Date: 19 September 2011
By Andrew Smith
at Tynecastle
A BRIGHT Medhi Taouil display, Andy Webster feeling unable to participate and David Obua just being David Obua.
There were elements of Hearts' win at home to St Mirren that suggested not a lot has really changed since Jim Jefferies was bagged in favour of Paolo Sergio at the beginning of the season.

Now recovered from injury, Taouil was given his first start since the opening day of the season at Ibrox. In a victory that Sergio described as having "a good flavour", the Moroccan's impishness and full-back Danny Grainger's plentiful penalty-box ammunition from wide on the left, prevented it being bland.

The points haul depending on a spot-kick converted by Jamie Hamill after the shaky Ilias Haddad clipped Marius Zaliukas, and an own-goal netted by the unfortunate Lee Mair, who made the wrong sort of headed contact with a Grainger centre.

Taouil's return and willingness to wriggle his way round the pitch taking men on lifted a Tynecastle crowd not in the best of moods following the scrappy 1-1 draw at Inverness the previous weekend.

There must be real concern now as to how much trust can be placed in Webster to play football games. On Saturday, he was withdrawn from the line-up just before kick-off.

"He felt some pain and, talking with him, he was worried about after five or ten minutes coming to the changing room," Sergio explained. "He wasn't comfortable kicking the ball but it's nothing special."

On the first day of the season against Rangers, Webster returned to the changing room after under ten minutes, and Dundee United manager Peter Houston, the only man to get a regular turn from the defender in the past five years, admitted the Scotland internationalist would not play with the slightest niggle.

It is hardly a recipe for being a regular contributor in the hurly-burly of Scottish football.

Webster's team-mate Obua isn't exactly the type you would want in the trenches beside you, if we are being honest here. There was a curious incident at the end of the encounter when, with all Hearts substitutes committed, he simply stood at the side of the pitch. A withdrawal of labour that led to a supporter having a go at him and the Ugandan responding in kind with, it was claimed, the use of a gesture.

Sergio later praised the shift his attackers did to press a harrying St Mirren, and admitted that, while they were "tactically perfect", they did tire because so much was asked of them. Obua's fatigue extended to cramp.

"When he stopped there (at the side of the pitch] I think the fan was surprised; I was surprised," the Hearts manager said. "But it was only for the last 30 seconds. Somebody talked to him, I don't think with respect, but it was not a problem."

St Mirren could not create any great problems for their hosts, as manager Danny Lennon was honest enough to acknowledge afterwards, and their unbeaten away run was ended rather easily in the final analysis. Lennon said the Scottish Communities League Cup tie away to St Johnstone tomorrow "cannot come quick enough", and former Kilmarnock player Taouil seemed in a similar mind about his club's trip to Ayr United.

"Maybe I will get a nice reception," he said when asked about travelling to the home of his old club's most bitter rivals.

The attacker did not play when the Ayrshire clubs drew in a Scottish Cup tie at Somerset Park two years ago, but scored as Kilmarnock won the return leg and "is ready" for a second start under Sergio in four days if that is the thinking of his manager, who has hinted he might select some fringe players. Memories of his time at Rugby Park can only but bring it to the fore for Taouil that he is at Tynecastle because of his regard for a management team, Jefferies and Billy Brown, no longer providing him guidance.

The 28-year-old admits the upheaval has not been easy but that Sergio's football philosophy is starting to get through with the club on a five-game unbeaten run and now up to fourth in the Scottish Premier League table, only one point off Motherwell. "I see that everybody really is beginning to understand what the manager wants," Taouil said. "It's quite different. He's from Portugal and the football there is good. In training everybody is focused and the St Mirren game showed that is working." What Sergio will no doubt want from Webster and Obua is for them to be prepared to push their bodies to the limits.

Taken from the Scotsman

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