Saturday, 10 April 2010

Heart of Midlothian v Kilmarnock - Scottish Premier League

Saturday 10th April 2010. Scottish Premier League
At Tynecastle Stadium

Heart of Midlothian (1) 1 (Suso Santana 31)
Kilmarnock (0) 0

Admission season ticket. Programme £3. Attendance 14,015
Hibs Casuals spring a surprise ambush outside the Wheatfield Stand turnstiles

Shirt sleeve weather in down-town Gorgie today, sun factor 30 for pale skinned ginger people (you know who you are ;-P ) and shade breaks all around.
Only 15 minutes into the game, I'd seen enough proof to back up my theory that the match officials in the SPL (sponsored, aptly enough by Specsavers Opticians) are worse than those you see in the UniBond League.
I know a few managers and supporters of my acquaintance would find that hard to believe ... but it is 100% true.
Hearts were conceding possession far too cheaply, Christian Nade was thundering around in lilac and orange boots doing whatever it is he does and Kilmarnock were trying to spoil Jim Jefferies chances of a top six place before the fixtures split.
For those of you who don't know, when I saw Hearts v Kilmarnock earlier in the season, JJ was Killie's manager, he has since left them and later resurfaced at Tynecastle as a replacement for Csaba Laszlo.
The fixtures split ... well, it is a farce!
In April every year, the SPL stops for a week, after which the top six play against each other once and the bottom six do the same too.
Instead of having teams playing an odd number of games against each other, it would surely make more sense to add two extra teams to the SPL and have them all facing each other twice or even four times per season, levelling out the home and away fixtures balance, than to stick with the current ridiculous set up.
But I guess that unless Celtic and Rangers want that change to come about it never will, because that is, in a nutshell, how football in Scotland operates.
And if any club ever steps forward to challenge the Glaswegian duopoly, they won't be able to rely on any of the other clubs making a stand with them, because certain boardrooms in the SPL are too frightened to take the Old Firm status quo on.
Ask Hearts about that.
The SPL doubtless think the split is radical and innovative ... in truth, it is a crock of shit.
Andy Driver ran onto a David Obua pass in the 27th minute and pulled up holding his leg.
He was taking no further part in the game today, his recurring injury problems have flared up again it would seem.
It's a real shame for Driver and most of Hearts more promising looking play so far had come through the England Under 21 player down the left wing.
They were going to have to look for inspiration from elsewhere now and within three minutes Suso Santana provided it, bursting into the box from the right hand side and firing the ball home in front of the School End (AKA The Roseburn Stand circa 2010).
"That way Ruben!"

Minutes later Ruben Palazuelos broke down the left wing berth vacated by Driver and created an excellent chance for Nade who should have scored, but didn't ... stop me if you've heard this one before.
At half time Scott Wilson entertained the crowd by playing us Peaches by the Stranglers and She Bangs The Drums by the Stone Roses, before introducing one of the Wurzels road crew to the crowd and playing Combine Harvester ... err, a good old traditional Edinburgh welcome then. Scott had been playing Double Dutch by Malcolm McLaren when I entered the ground, a tribute to the former Sex Pistols manager who died earlier this week. Personally I would have played Holidays In The Sun, but I suppose anything is better than McLaren's pet project Bow Wow Wow.
Kilmarnock came out looking for an equaliser and Jamie MacDonald pulled off an outstanding save to thwart a comeback.
But then Hearts pushed forward in workmanlike waves, in an effort to finish the game off.
Obua was flattened in the box, the defender hadn't even got near the ball, so the referee had little choice but to award a blatant ... err, corner kick.
David Templeton, the player most likely to fill Andy Driver's roll until the end of the season on the left wing, shot after a solo run into the box, but the ball was saved and went wide for a corner.
Larry Kingston took the flag kick and presented Christian Nade with a gilt edged chance which he couldn't fail to score from ... err, but he defied the odds and shot narrowly wide again.
You didn't see that one coming, eh!?
Scott Robinson came on in place of Nade.
The Frenchman has explosive bursts of pace, strength, power and good positional awareness, he had worked very hard today, but goals win games.
Changing ends and moving seats at half time is strictly forbidden ... apparently ;-)

Larry Kingston was putting in his best shift in ages, selfless, hard working and creating chance after chance.
Under the previous manager, Larry was lazy, often AWOL and seemingly wanting away ... and I'm sure most Hearts fans would've chipped in towards his plane ticket too, but under Jim Jefferies he's been a revelation.
Hearts created enough chances to have put the game out of Kilmarnock's reach in the second half, but couldn't final the final touch, they never do things the easy way.
Craig Thomson came on as a substitute for Hearts on 80 minutes after Santana had taken a knock ... a few hours earlier he'd been queueing behind me at a cash point in Bonnyrigg High Street, it needs to be said, if he's on an SPL salary he ought to be dress rather more elegantly than he does :-P scruffy git!
The referee blew for full time (about the first thing he'd got right for approximately 30 minutes) and the Tynecastle faithful went home secure in the knowledge that a season that had threatened to end up as a miserable going through the motions spectacle, would now at least be remembered for being mediocre.
Elsewhere today. Ross County beat Celtic 2-0 in the Scottish Cup semi final and Ossett Albion squandered a 4-1 lead against Bradford Park Avenue to lose 4-6 in the UniBond Premier (phew!).