Clydesdale Bank SPL, Saturday 27 February 2010 - Pittodrie (or was it Aberdeen beach?)
The mini match reports on this blog are of games I have attended. I have to confess I didn't go to Pittodrie today for numerous reasons: a) a ridiculous kick-off time of 12 noon - how convenient for those who did travel to the Granite City, b) I've already seen Hearts lose twice to Aberdeen in the last six weeks and c) Hearts have been quite awful this season - the worst Hearts team for thirty years. Oh and d) the game was live on ESPN, hence the kick off time and, I suspect, the reason many people stayed away (I believe this was Aberdeen's lowest attendance of the season)
The game was, in keeping with so many Hearts games this season, quite awful. Forgive me if I have written this before but it is true. At least today there was some kind of excuse - the pitch was quite woeful and wholly unplayable and this combined with the biting wind from the North Sea made the possibility of free-flowing football non-existent. Not that it existed in any case given the teams who were playing.
Two shocking refereeing decisions threatened to undo Hearts efforts. Firstly, Ryan Stevenson was blatantly pushed in the Aberdeen penalty box just before half-time right in front of the eyes of the referee. No penalty said Willie Collum. Secondly, Larry Kingston went for a fifty-fifty ball with Aberdeen's Fraser Fyvie. Both had their feet high and there was an inevitable collision. It appeared as if Fyvie had been the victim of a terrorist atrocity as the way he reacted when he fell to the ground indicated he had been shot by a sniper in the sparse crowd. Referee Collum was suitably impressed by the youngster's antics to show Kingston a red card when a yellow would have been more appropriate.
Having lost Kurchaski and Zaliukas to injury, Hearts were now down to ten men. But what they lacked in skill they made up for in spirit - although Eggart Jonsson's superbly taken goal moments later was something to savour. The Icelandic internationalist took a deflected Calum Elliot effort on the volley and with a superb bicycle kick swept the ball past an astonished Jamie Langfield in the Aberdeen goal.
There endeth the scoring. Aberdeen looked a side bereft of confidence and ideas; Hearts at least played with a spirit that was commendable and look good for a top six place come the ludicrous SPL split in April.
To my esteemed blogging colleagues Ken Fitlike and Huntly Loon - things can only get better!