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Maroon Memories: Hearts 2-1 Dundee, November 21, 1998

NEIL McCann was the hero among the Tynecastle faithful after his injury-time winner, with the match being the first this season in which Hearts had come from behind to win.

After a fruitful August which yielded four consecutive home victories, Hearts found themselves in a rut of form with only two wins in their last 15 matches prior to this encounter.

This win gave manager Jim Jefferies something to smile about, especially since McCann, who returned to the side after a seven-week absence, not only managed to last the course, but also grabbed the winner.

The absence of Gilles Rousset due to illness was compensated for by the return of Scotland winger McCann for his first appearance since he suffered an ankle injury against Real Mallorca in October.

His appearance on the left flank gave Hearts the width they had been lacking and his team-mates made certain that he saw plenty of the ball. The early signs were promising; Lee Butler made a fine save from a Stephane Adam free kick in the 11th minute and then did

equally well to claw a McCann cross away from the lurking Frenchman.

A goal was inevitable, but when it arrived in the 18th minute, it came at the other end. David Graham was allowed to roam down the right and his cross was volleyed, left-footed towards goal by Gavin Johnson. Roddy McKenzie seemed to have the ball covered, but it somehow squirmed from his grasp and the Brazilian Edinho, following in, side-footed it into the net from two yards.

The visitors, until they scored, had rarely crossed the halfway line. After their goal, confidence surged through them and the movement of their front men caused an uncertain home defence all kinds of problems.

Hearts trudged off to a chorus of jeers. The lack of vision and imagination in their midfield was thrown into sharp relief by the performance of Derek Ferguson, whose subtle promptings were at the heart of almost every Dundee attack.

Initially in the second half they continued to look the more dangerous unit and Hearts’ equaliser in the 61st minute was as much against the run of play as Edinho’s opener had been.

Jim Hamilton’s driven cross from the left eluded Adam but reached Thomas Flogel and the Austrian’s drive from 15 yards found the net via the inside of Butler’s right-hand post.

Jefferies introduced Juanjo in place of the injured Adam although, given the impact he was to make, the manager could have claimed it was a tactical substitution. Juanjo supplied Hamilton with the superb pass which led to the cross which McCann converted at the far post in the dying seconds of injury time.

The ensuing celebrations suggested relief rather than a fortunate victory over the division’s bottom club, but given Hearts’ form that joy was perfectly understandable.

 

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