Football, outings and assorted finery.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

It's not all Academical..

Hearts had been quietly building an unbeaten run ahead of their home match with Hamilton, winning their last 3 games by a score of 2-0. The Tynecastle faithful were hopeful that this pattern would continue against Billy Reid’s Accies.

Saturday 20th November was, for me, the first really cold day of the season. I always make an early season comment along the lines of ‘We’re standing here in t-shirts, I can’t believe we’ll all be freezing in coats and hats in just a couple of months time’. Predictably though the weather soon turns and it did so in time for the Accies game, signalling the start of a long cold winter (particularly so given the snow blizzards of the last few days!).

The Hearts fans were in confident mood before kick-off and whilst the atmosphere was hardly red hot, there was an undeniable buzz around Tynecastle and what felt like a good degree of positivity. A most rare occurrence amongst Hearts fans!

Hearts supporters had reacted well to a midweek marketing push from the Hearts ticket office. The game was well attended with minimal gaps in the home support. Conversely Accies, who have struggled in recent weeks, only brought a smattering of their most dedicated supporters who sat high up in one small section of the Roseburn stand.

The Hamilton fans huddle together for warmth in the Roseburn Stand.

As the first half got under way both sides were fairly underwhelming. Accies put some reasonable passing moves together without ever really threatening whilst Hearts looks rather turgid in their play. With the Jambos getting off to a less than inspiring first half, it was almost reaching the point whereby the crowd would soon be getting restless when the ball broke to Rudi Skacel. Rudi was able to spot Tomas Cerny off his line and smash a dipping volley past his fellow Czech after 32 minutes of play. Ismael Bouzid could have then doubled Hearts’ lead shortly before halftime but for messing up a simple header after the Accies keeper failed to deal with a cross.

Hearts put Accies under pressure at a set piece.

David Templeton was able to produce a piece of play similar in quality to that of Skacel 7 minutes after the interval, when he fired the ball from distance into the top corner of the Accies goal. At the other end Marian Kello produced a stunning save on the hour after parrying Gavin Skelton’s shot. Damien Casalinuovo collected the loose ball and looked set to score, he was to be denied however thanks to some excellent positioning from Kello. The only other main incident of the game came when Palazuelos brought down Flavio Paixao in the area, the penalty award initially looked soft but having seen the replay I have to concede that the referee made the correct call. Simon Mensing step up to blast the spot kick towards goal. The in-form Kello guessed correctly and made a strong save.

The Hearts players celebrate after Templeton's strike.

It was fitting that Kello managed to keep a clean sheet on the day on which Hearts marked the passing of their goalkeeping legend Jim Cruickshank. In addition to a minutes silence before kick-off, Kello hung a yellow jersey on the goal net in Jim’s memory. It was a nice touch and whilst I’m clearly biased in this regard, it does give me a sense of pride when Hearts make these additional, well thought out gestures.

A minutes silence for Jim Cruickshank.

Marian Kello hangs Jim's yellow jersey on the goal net.

The gesture was repeated in the second half.

So Hearts were able to continue their pattern by winning their last 4 games by two goals to nil. A stiffer challenge lies ahead in weeks to come but, for now, the refreshing optimism sweeping Gorgie continued as the Hearts faithful exited into the cold streets and headed home happy.

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