Football, outings and assorted finery.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Often when I turn up at Tynecastle I turn away from the pitch momentarily and have a look to see who is seated in the director's box. There's normally a couple of other Scottish football managers in addition to the usual suits, occasionally Craig Levein, and sometimes the odd team boss from down south. Now and again you get a couple of interesting ones, Peter Schmeichel dropped by once when his son played against Hearts whilst on loan to Falkirk. Rugby's Ian McGeechan has been spotted watching a game and once, quite bizarrely, we had two of the lads from Boyzone in attendance. Apparently they are big mates with the former Hearts player Alan Maybury.

On Saturday we had another out of the ordinary guest, GMTV's Lorraine Kelly. Lorraine is a well known Dundee Utd fan and stopped by Tynecastle to watch her boys take on Hearts.

The lovely Lorraine Kelly
Incidentally whilst searching for this picture of Lorraine I came across some interesting results (not literally). A simple google search for Lorraine Kelly with 'safe search' switched off should bring back the same results. I'll admit I was completely oblivious to her past home photography efforts, one can only assume times were tough prior to her first televisual big break. Still, at least I now fully understand Bo Selecta's 'growler' joke!

Lorraine Kelly's...erm..growler

Anyway, enough abut middle aged ladies unkempt shubbery. Dundee Utd fans travelled to Gorgie in reasonable number given their slightly shaky start to the season. Prior to meeting Hearts,the Arabs had drawn their opening game, lost 4-0 to Inverness and crashed out of Europe at the hands of AEK Athens. The second leg of their Europa tie was only on Thursday so their fitness was likely to be put to an early season test.

Dundee Utd fans - before the away section filled up properly

Hearts on the other hand went into this game full of confidence and having won their last two games. Despite the latter of the two being against lowly Elgin, the confidence levels in the maroon camp should have been pretty high. A few injuries and suspensions forced Hearts into a few changes in personnel. Zaliukas and Wallace were unavailable, meaning Hearts took to the field with a rather unusual back four of Craig Thomson, Bouzid, Barr and Jonsson. A suspension to Palazuelos meant that Mroviec came into the Hearts midfield alongside Suso, Black and Templeton, whilst Ryan Stevenson played a slightly more advanced role in supporting Kevin Kyle.

The teams shake hand before kick off 

Hearts started strongly and had the better of the first half going close on a number of occasions. They finally made good one of their chances after 33 minutes through a classic counter attack. Suso picked up the ball just outside the Hearts box and knock the ball past the cumbersome Gary Kenneth before round him, charging the length of the pitch and slotting a nicely weighted ball to David Templeton, who, in turn, slotted the ball past Pernis and into the net off the far post. Hearts continued to have the better of the first half thereafter but despite playing well never really threatened to add to their goal tally.

Hearts players and fans applaud the first goal

Into the second half, Hearts continued to look the stronger off the two sides but Dundee Utd certainly looked more dangerous as the game progressed. Jon Daly, the Utd front man wasn't winning a huge amount of balls for the Tangerines, but Dundee Utd were quick to the second ball and gradually began to control the midfield. The Arabs were awarded a penalty after hearts were adjudged to have handled the ball in the area after corner. I initially thought it was a very soft penalty award but having seen it back I had to concede that the referee

Craig Thomson had little choice but to award the spot kick. That's not to say that I was at all enamoured with his overall performance, Thomson was his usual over officious, inconsistent self. He was as bad to one team as he was to the other, however, he missed obvious fouls, gave baffling decisions and frustrated both sets of players and fans alike. Sadly this is the standard of refereeing to which fans of SPL clubs have become all too familiar.

Jon Daly stepped up to take the spot kick and struck it fairly tamely to Marian Kello's left. The Hearts keeper dived the right way and managed to reach out a palm to deny Daly the goal and keep Hearts one ahead. The Tynecastle stands erupted much in the same way in which they had done following Templeton's goal, the fans clearly hoped this would be the catalyst to Hearts seeing out the game and securing all three points. Sadly (for me anyway) this was not to be the case. Morgaro Gomis who had been introduced mid way through the second half, is always a dangerous player. With his obvious talent and fresh legs, it wasn't rocket science to envisag him being be at the centre of any Dundee Utd comeback. Indeed it was Gomis who levelled matters after about 77 minutes with a stunning strike. Kello in the Hearts goal had no chance of saving his thunderous effort and as disappointing as it was from a Hearts point of view, we could at least console ourselves in having seen two goals which surely must be strong contenders for goal of the month (and in the Gomis strike, a potential goal of the season!).

Despite the best effort from both sides in the closing 10 minutes the game ended 1-1. It was disappointing given that Hearts had dominated for long spell but similarly I sure they'll be plenty of Dundee Utd fans slightly disappointed that they didn't managed to complete their late smash and grab effort and escape back to the City of Teenage Pregnancy Discovery with all three points.

It was certainly a great game for the neutral and given that Hearts were playing one of the stronger teams in the league, and dare I say it, a probable rival for third place. They shouldn’t be too downhearted

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