Writer: Specs Haver
Date:Sunday January 15 2012
I was eagerly looking forward to this match. Hearts were on a good run, and St. Mirren have been receiving positive reports about their exciting football and picking up their highest ever points total at the halfway stage. A good crowd turned out on a cold afternoon - I would have estimated almost 14,000 - but strangely was announced as less than 12,500. However I never anticipated seeing 7 goals - and a 10-man team winning by 3 !!
Training ground rehearsals for corner kicks proved successful as early as the 1st minute when John Sutton ran from the middle of the goal to the back post - taking 2 markers with him - to allow Marius Zaliukas to come thundering in to the vacated space and bullet Ian Black`s perfect corner kick past Craig Samson.
The captain lasted only another 4 minutes though, when his lunge on Paul McGowan as he tried to reach a ball ahead of Marian Kello resulted in a red card. Kello almost reached McGowan`s spot kick.
As I started to wonder how on earth 10-man Hearts could hold on for even a point against a pretty good St. Mirren team with 85 minutes remaining, it came as no surprise to see the energised visitors take the lead, when Thompson cleverly directed a looping header from a right-wing cross over Kello and into the net.
Darren Barr was having a difficult time at left back, and although John Sutton was doing well to get to balls played up to him, there often wasn't another Hearts man close enough to him. With Mrowiec playing in defence now, Stephen Elliott dropped back to help Black, Skacel and Robinson in midfield - and there was no doubt that the workrate these guys were producing was impressive. But if we couldn`t get men forward quickly, it was going to take another set-piece or a good long range shot to regain some momentum in the game. Cue a typical wonder strike from who else but Rudi Skacel !! Challenging for the ball 30 yards out on the right, he carved out a couple of yards in which to get the ball on to his left foot - and thundered a brilliant shot just inside Samson`s left hand post.
The remainder of the first half became a bit dour, with neither side able to create much.
After Elliott had wasted a decent chance by shooting high over the bar, Tynecastle erupted in wild celebration when Rudi showed just what a rare talent he has by firing in his second , almost out of nothing from the right corner of the box. The 10 men were ahead - somehow. We could sense the confidence and workrate rise among the players, and I recalled how Rudi had scored a hat-trick against the same opponents last season. Surely he couldn`t do it again ? He gave us his answer only 5 minutes later when Black cleverly fed Rudi. As he moved to the left, he stumbled at a challenge but kept going - and unleashed another perfect strike into Samson`s left hand corner. Unbelievable !!
St. Mirren came close with a couple of attacks, with Webster and Barr doing well to clear them, and Kello made 2 great saves also.
Then in the 90th minutes, Hearts were awarded an indirect free-kick inside the St.Mirren box after Samson was forced to handle a pass back under pressure. Skacel stood ready to smash in his 4th as the entire St.Mirren team lined up on the goal-line. Black slipped it to John Sutton instead who smashed it high into the net.
Barr improved immensely in the 2nd half, while Robinson and Black were outstanding in midfield. Sutton and Elliott worked tirelessly and proved a real handful for the Saints defence. The hero of the day of course was Mr Skacel - surely the most accurate striker of a ball in the SPL, capable of producing a goal out of nothing. The remarkable ovation from the fans when he was substituted in injury time was something that he will cherish for a long time. Let`s hope that this wasn't his last game for Hearts and that the club will offer a suitable extension to his contract.
Date:Sunday January 15 2012
Hearts Snatch Point In Dramatic Edinburgh Derby (Sunday April 3 2011)
Remember THAT transfer window ? (pt 1) (Monday February 7 2011)
Hearts - Saints Player Ratings (Sunday January 30 2011)
Hearts should use Chick Young as motivation !! (Friday January 28 2011)
Hearts 1-0 Rangers - Player Ratings (Sunday January 23 2011)
Who should Hearts try to sign ? (Wednesday January 12 2011)
Hearts lead SPL sceptics ? (Wednesday January 5 2011)
Hearts icons of ... the 1980s (part 2) (Tuesday December 7 2010)
Hearts icons of .... the 1980s (part 1) (Thursday December 2 2010)
Scottish football - a mad upside-down world (Saturday November 27 2010)
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