With a dry wintry pitch and an opponent desperate for points, it was no surprise that neat passing football was almost non-existent. Hearts recalled Jason Thomson at right-back and Calum Elliot started the game, following his substitute appearance last week.
Mind you, there were a fair number of decent attempts at goal in this game. In the first half, Jason Thomson hit a sweet volley in the first half which cleared the bar by a couple of feet. Marius Zaliukas should have at least put a good header on target following a corner. At the other end, each of the Paixao twins came close to snatching a goal.
The second half started with a great chance squandered by Lee Wallace when he went for too much power when pouncing on a loose ball after Elliot had slipped in the box – and the ball ended up in the Roseburn stand. Minutes later Suso Santana had to leave the field through injury, to be replaced by young David Templeton. Almost immediately, he showed good composure to beat a couple of defenders as he sped towards goal before being brought down. Unfortunately, Stevenson wasted the free-kick. We all thought Hearts had scored when Thomson rose at the back post to meet a corner kick – but somehow managed to put it past the post !!
Marian Kello then came to Hearts rescue with a great diving save from Flavio Paixao. Seconds later, Ryan Stevenson controlled a bouncing ball on the right, looked up to see who was supporting in the middle, and played a clever short cross on to the head of David Obua ?. 1-0 !!
JJ then brought on Laryea Kingston to a decent reception from the 13,000 crowd, replacing Novikovas. He slotted in to central midfield – not stuck out on the right wing – and actually made a decent contribution to the game, without working up too much of a sweat. The manager has said he will continue to demand more from the Ghanaian over the coming weeks as he assesses the weaknesses and strengths of his squad.
Accies were actually the livelier side for the next 10 minutes as they chased an equaliser. However, the second goal resulted from David Templeton`s efforts to worry Accies defender Easton, who knocked a back-pass high in the air over his keeper`s head – and the Hearts youngster raced in to knock it over the line ? 2-0 !!
In the final minute, Kello produced another brilliant save from a fierce Easton volley to ensure a clean sheet.
The 3 points from today`s match was the most important objective, to help boost the confidence and league position of the team. With some players returning from injury and suspension this week, the next game at Pittodrie will be very interesting as the new “JJ era” unfolds.
Kello ???. 8..?. Three fine saves and confident handling
Thomson ?. 7.?. Good tackling, but gave Accies men too much time on the ball
Wallace ?? 8.?.. Vital defensive work, & some good forward runs
Kucharski ?.. 7 ?.. His best game so far – not spectacular but effective.
Zaliukas ??. 8 ?.. Looks like a real captain. Take note, Mr Stewart
Suso ???.. 5 ?? Tried hard, but his few runs fizzled out
Jonsson ??..6 ?? Good solid performance
Stevenson ?..6 ?? Hard-working display. Laid on the first goal well.
Novikovas ?.5 ?? Not much impact with his runs or deliveries
Obua ???. 5 ?? Struggled to control the ball. Goal perked him up a lot.
Elliot ???. 4 ??. Just not his day
Templeton ?. 6 ?? Showed some decent control and determination
R. Wallace ?. 3 ?? Struggled a bit.
Kingston ?? 6 ?? Got involved with 3 good goal attempts in 15 minutes