Hearts win - again !!
Saturday 22nd November 2008
The last 14 days has seen smiles return to the faces of most Hearts supporters - 12 points from 4 games has propelled the club into 3rd place in the SPL. Today`s match against Falkirk at Tynecastle looked to be (potentially) the most tricky out of the 4, given the difficulty our club has experienced over the last 3 seasons in trying to overcome John Hughes`s team.
However, the Hearts players really had their sleeves rolled up today despite the freezing conditions, and it was clear that they were focused and confident in their game plan. A bright opening 15 minutes saw some lovely passing moves from Hearts, with Andrew Driver looking to have the beating of the Falkirk right-back. However it was Falkirk who opened the scoring against the run of play, when some slack play by Hearts on the half-way line was intercepted by Higdon, who fed the ball through to Lovell racing forward - he managed to flick the ball past the on-rushing Balogh.
Hearts got themselves back on to level terms 3 minutes later, when man-of-the-match Bruno Aguiar curled a perfect free-kick from 25 yards inside Flinders` left-hand post at the School End - the goalie got a touch, but couldn`t prevent the Portugese midfielder scoring his 3rd goal in 6 weeks.
Bizarrely, it was Falkirk who then dominated the rest of the first half of this game, without getting any shots on target, as Hearts struggled to make much headway towards visitors penalty area.
The second half saw referee Eddie Smith, who had seemed reluctant to wave any cards despite some rough treatment handed out to Driver, annoy the home fans when he brandished the first yellow card to Lee Wallace. Some rough challenges on Wallace followed, and I actually wondered if this was a deliberate ploy by Falkirk to incite him into retaliation - which would have seen him sent off. Full marks to young Lee for "keeping the heid".
Hearts were generally impressive in the 2nd half - some good accurate passing, with lots of movement off the ball, and it was noticeable how quickly Falkirk players were closed down whenever they got the ball. The highlight was a stunning solo goal from Andrew Driver to win the game, which "brought the house down" (as they say). He won possession around the halfway line, sprinting clear of a couple of opponents - then dribbled past 2 more, before rounding the goalkeeper and striking the ball home with his right foot.
This moment alone reminded me why I bother to watch football - it was reminiscent of Ricardo Fuller`s solo effort against Motherwell at the start of the decade, and it was really good to see the youngster turn his undoubted "potential" into meaningful action.
Despite Hearts dominance, Falkirk could have stolen a draw late on when Aguiar cleared off the line following Bullen`s header from a corner - and an even later Higdon header which missed by inches.
Being able to take maximum points from a run of games against 'lower' opponents (even if they are single goal victories) is essential for any team looking to qualify for Europe, so I think the fans should be happy that Csaba seems to be nudging Hearts along the right road.
For me, everyone in maroon played well - but messrs Berra, Wallace, Neilson, Aguiar, Nade and Driver reached a level of performance that we can be really happy with. Let`s hope they can keep this up for a while to come. Congratulations to Csaba and the players, once again !!