Co-operative Ins Cup v Hearts

HEARTS 2 DUNFERMLINE 1 Date: 23/09/09

Fixture: Co-operative Insurance Cup

Attendance: 6126, Kick Off: 7.45pm.

Referee: Brian Winter

With a terrible league performance just days ago against Partick Thistle and a starting line-up containing only one striker, it was a pleasant surprise to see Dunfermline open this CIS Cup tie with attack on their mind.

Greg Ross connected with Scott Muirhead`s cross to shoot wide under pressure; Nick Phinn was bundled over in the box to penalty claims from the visitors; Ross once more collected a Muirhead ball to force Balogh into a save; and Willie Gibson tried his luck from a 25-yard free kick which again saw Balogh testing his gloves early on.

Having signalled their intention early, Dunfermline fully deserved the lead they grabbed quarter of an hour into the game. Woods freed Ross down the right hand side, who slid a quick ball into the box. Balogh got a touch to BAYNE`s shot and could arguably have done better but the Pars` striker demonstrated a cool finishing touch to fire the visitors into the lead.

Hearts demonstrated some woeful play in the first half hour against a much improved Dunfermline team, but the hosts were not quick to learn any lessons from the early pressure. Thomson was forced to concede a corner after some slack Hearts defending, while Goncalves was forced to foul Bayne in a dangerous position after Obua gave the ball away.

With fifteen minutes remaining until the break, Hearts began to claw their way into the game. Goncalves notched up the first of many (optimistic) penalty claims when he went down in a crowded box, and Obua attempted to make up for earlier mistakes with a snapshot volley from distance. His shot came closer to troubling the queue at the pie stall than Greg Fleming`s goal but it was a clear signal that the home team were unlikely to roll over.

Sure enough, they appeared to have levelled things ten minutes from half time when Zaliukas escaped Woods` attention to nod home but to the relief of the black and white support in front of him he was ruled offside.

Hearts` best chance of the first half was yet to come however. Two minutes before the break Alex Burke had to be alert to block an effort from Goncalves on the Pars goal line. His block deflected the ball back into the danger area and what can only be described in the words of Arthur Montford as a stramash unfolded, the ball cascading around a forest of legs before somehow ending up a safe distance from the net.

The danger didn`t stop there however and a minute later an equaliser was narrowly avoided when, after a Neil McGregor header was deflected back into the box, an acrobatic volley from Glen sailed just over the bar.

Having fought their way back into the game, Hearts came out for the second half with a great deal more confidence. Their next claim for a penalty came just a minute into the second half when a slip-up by Ross resulted in Dowie felling Suso but once more referee Brian Winter was having none of it.

A string of crosses into dangerous areas may not have come to much to begin with but should have acted as a warning to the Pars. However, after Calum Woods claimed to have been fouled to no avail, Gary GLEN popped up to eventually convert one cross with a glancing header in at Fleming`s far post.

While they were now a shadow of the team who dominated the first half hour, Dunfermline were not without chances. Cardle and Bayne linked up well with the former hitting a fierce shot which Balogh had to parry round his near post and Bayne was unlucky with his off-target header following Balogh`s alarming fresh-air flapping at a Gibson cross.

Between those two chances Hearts had tried to claim a penalty again - this time Suso hitting the deck - so it was probably no surprise that they eventually won one, though of all the claims they had there was certainly reason to be surprised by the nature of the foul that finally gave them it.

McGregor, having given the ball away to Obua with a tired pass, found himself one-on-one with the towering presence. As Obua skipped past McGregor, the Pars defender nudged him off the ball in what used to be allowed as a shoulder-to-shoulder challenge. Obua needed no more excuse than that to go down and while his exuberant flailing may not have convinced many others, the man with the whistle said foul. Michael STEWART stepped up to calmly slot home the spot kick and give Hearts the lead.

Dunfermline were struggling to find their way back into the game now and couldn`t find a way through even when Balogh again flapped and dropped the ball under pressure from both Bayne and his own defenders.

Dunfermline weathered the storm - McGregor finally clearing after another goalmouth scramble and Smith trying to claim another Hearts penalty (from the attentions of Dowie this time) - but couldn`t produce the goods up front as they began to tire.

The introduction of McCann and Kirk from the bench - to warm receptions from both sets of fans - seemed tailor-made for an equaliser but on this occasion neither man was to put one over on their former employer.

The Pars certainly threw everything forward in the dying stages but lacked the composure in front of goal to grab an equaliser and even when awarded a corner four minutes into injury time there was to be no last minute drama.

HEARTS: Balogh, Wallace (Black 45), Goncalves, Palazuelos, Suso, Obua, Bouzid, Stewart, Zaliukas, Glen (Smith 74), C. Thomson
SUBS NOT USED: MacDonald, Kucharski, J. Thomson
SCORERS: Glen (56), Stewart (pen 74)

DUNFERMLINE: Fleming, Woods (Cardle 57), Muirhead, Holmes, McGregor, Dowie, Ross (McCann 82), Burke, Bayne, Phinn (Kirk 75), Gibson
SUBS NOT USED: Paterson, Higgins
BOOKINGS: Dowie, McGregor
SCORER: Bayne (15)

REFEREE: Brian Winter

NEXT GAME (Home) First Division v Queen of the South
Saturday 26th September 2009, kick off 3.00pm

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