On Saturday the decisions definitely didn’t go our way. The most crucial of these was when referee Eddie Smith awarded a very soft penalty to Hamilton early in the second half, which allowed Simon Mensing to give Accies a 2-0 lead and effectively kill the game. Newly promoted captain Robbie Neilson was adjudged to have pulled James McCarthy in the box, although it didn’t take a replay to show that McCarthy had conned the referee by merely leaning back and falling over.
Neilson made minimal contact with McCarthy outside the box but the Republic of Ireland U21 international stayed on his feet, continued into the box and fell over under no contact. If any infringement was made, it should have resulted in a free-kick as the only contact there was took place outside the box.
In the lead up to the first goal, Smith, and more so his assistant, also failed to spot a handball by Richard Offiong before the same player won a corner for his side. Hamilton subsequently caught Hearts napping, something Caley had caught us out with a few times seven days previous, and Brian Easton’s cross was nodded in by Simon Mensing. This was the first sign that we were going to miss the presence of Christophe Berra, who had travelled down south to discuss a contract with Championship side Wolves earlier that day.
Another incident that was missed by Smith was Hearts’ penalty claim in the first half with the score at 1-0, when Troy McClenahan appeared to control the ball in the box with his arm. I has to be said however that despite the errors from the officials, Hearts didn’t really turn up for the match and the team looked as though they could have played until the transfer deadline and still not scored. Christian Nade was again ineffective and he failed to even hit the target during the eighty minutes that he played.
Eggert Jonsson, who partnered Marius Zaliukas in central defence, has been one of the stand out performers for Hearts this season but his display on Saturday is evidence that he lacks the attributes to play in this position. With only a few hours left of the transfer window it looks unlikely a replacement for Berra will be signed. Our options include either promoting young Ryan McGowan from the reserves, or else moving Christos Karipidis back from defensive midfield.
Karipidis, for the second game in a row, had a poor game but the most worrying thing about his performance on Saturday was that he sat far too deep. We effectively played with three central defenders for much of the match.
The only players who looked as though they could have made something happen were midfield trio Andy Driver, although he seemed to get worse as the game wore on, Michael Stewart and David Obua. Obua and Stewart linked up to hit the post and Stewart pulled a great point blank save out of Accies keeper Tomas Cerny.
Csaba Laszlo brought on Laryea Kingston, Gary Glen and Calum Elliot towards the end of the match, however, these changes seemed to come too late and the side struggled to break down the two layers of Hamilton defence.
Hamilton were one of the league’s form sides going into the game at the weekend but Hearts will see this as points dropped, especially when a win would have taken us into third place with Dundee United and Aberdeen also losing. Further, a win would have put some space between us and the Dons before the two teams meet at Tynecastle in the next league match in a fortnight.
Next week it’s the Scottish Cup 5th Round where Hearts have a home tie against Falkirk. Anyone got any idea who Hibs have got?