Raith Rovers 0-3 Hearts: New-look Jambos in full control
THE unrecognisable face of the Hearts line-up which kicked off John McGlynn’s reign as manager was perhaps best illustrated when a small group of away supporters mistakenly began singing the name of Ryan McGowan in the immediate aftermath of their team’s opening goal at Stark’s Park.
Scorers: Hearts - Paterson (26), Sutton (43), Templeton (67)
It was scored at the opposite end of the ground by a leggy, dark-haired right-back who was showing no aversion to bursting into the opposing penalty box, so it was entirely understandable that some may have thought it was McGowan wheeling away in delight. Only it wasn’t the Australian at all. It was another Academy product, 17-year-old Callum Paterson, who had just capped his first-ever first-team outing by firing Hearts ahead in 26 minutes.
McGowan was on the pitch, although in an unfamiliar guise. Donning the No 10 jersey, he was deployed as the most advanced member of a three-man midfield, just off central striker John Sutton, and the duo duly combined for Hearts’ second goal, with the versatile Aussie feeding a superb pass through to the Englishman, who finished with conviction just before the break. Substitute David Templeton sealed the win with a majestic 20-yard curler midway through the second half of an uplifting friendly which served as a testimonial match for Raith Rovers defender Laurie Ellis, a boyhood Hearts fan.
The nature of the victory – controlled and clinical rather than swashbuckling – buoyed McGlynn, particularly given the fact he had effectively thrown together a team as best he could from the remnants of Paulo Sergio’s Scottish Cup-winning squad. McGlynn was only able to call on five of the heroes who started in that demolition of Hibernian eight weeks previously and, even then, two of them were deployed in different positions as, in addition to McGowan moving up to midfield, Darren Barr dropped back to central defence in the absence of skipper Marius Zaliukas, who missed out through illness.
There was no place for American trialist Anton Peterlin, whose stint at Riccarton appears to be over. As well as Paterson, fellow youngsters Kevin McHattie and Denis Prychynenko started the match, giving the team, at first glance, an experimental look. McGlynn, however, hinted afterwards that, give or take a few tweaks here and there, Saturday’s line-up may not be too dissimilar to the one which takes the field for the SPL curtain-raiser at home to St Johnstone two weeks on Saturday.
Certainly, he intends to persist with McGowan in midfield for a while longer. “Ryan played right-back at the end of last season, but he’s got great energy levels and we feel he’s a big plus for us pushing on further up the park, as he did against Raith,” said the manager. “You have to try things out. We’re short of strikers at the moment so we needed to get someone up there close to John Sutton. We tried Ryan up there and he made a good few runs forward.”
With Jamie Hamill and Danny Grainger poised to miss the start of the season through injury and suspension respectively, McGlynn insisted he would have no qualms about pitching in Paterson and McHattie at full-back. “The two full-backs could very much be a part of things this season,” he added. “This is a great opportunity for them to go in and stake a claim for the jersey. I’ve come here to bring youngsters through and I’m not frightened of that.”
McGlynn confirmed he was keen to bring in a few new faces, particularly in attack where Sutton is the only proven option. However he did offer a vote of confidence to the English striker, who looked sharp on his first game back in maroon after falling out of favour under Sergio last season and subsequently being loaned to Australian side Central Coast Mariners. “John’s looked the part in training and his attitude’s been great. I think he showed against Raith what he’s all about. He led the line and took his goal well. That will do his confidence no harm whatsoever. If our wide players get the ball into the box, he’ll go in and attack it. He maybe didn’t fit in under the previous manager, but he’s getting an opportunity to stake a claim here. His CV speaks for itself.”
Raith Rovers: McGurn, Thomson, Ellis, Hill, Murray, Callachan, G Anderson, Walker, Clarke, Graham, Hamill. Subs: Laidlaw, Donaldson, Malone, Wilson, S Anderson, Wales, Spence, Dargo, Andrews.
Hearts: MacDonald, Paterson, McHattie, Webster, Barr, Prychynenko, Novikovas, Robinson, Sutton, R McGowan, Driver. Subs: Ridgers, D McGowan, Taouil, Templeton, D Smith, Walker, Holt, D McGowan
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west