‘It’s a great boost for the fans. They get to go to Hampden again’, says John McGlynn
IN A season defined by adversity, Hearts yesterday took epic, heroic struggle to new heights as they reached their first League Cup final in 17 years.
And as much as being a triumph of tenacity for his young team in the face of unfavourable odds, the penalty shoot-out success over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, following a compelling 120 minutes that left the scoreline tied at 1-1, was a heartwarmer in respect of the supporter in charge of the team, John McGlynn.
Even his counterpart Terry Butcher was moved to pay tribute to McGlynn’s team selection and the huge effort they produced. The Tynecastle manager, with a squad depleted by injuries and suspension, gambled on including two players who had never started for the club before – Liverpool loan signing Michael Ngoo responding to his Thursday night move with a 66th minute equaliser – and five others in the under-21 bracket. He drove on his team and stuck by them, despite falling behind to an Andrew Shinnie strike four minutes after the interval and being reduced to ten men for the last half hour of the encounter following a straight red-card for Scott Robinson.
The victory not only saves Hearts’ season, it could see them through financially. No wonder McGlynn seemed to sit upright on being asked what leading his team into the final meant for him personally. “It is a very proud day and I am very proud of the performance and fight,” he said. “It will be a very special, special occasion [to lead the team out in the final]. The very reason I came back to Hearts was that they had a history over a 100 years of finishing third and going to cup finals and within six months we are back to Hampden again.”
McGlynn said “you could put two and two together” when asked about whether there would be a preference for Celtic given Hearts’ perilous finances. He was more effusive in having produced an outcome that for once would draw attention from them.
“It is a massive win, a great boost for the fans,” said McGlynn, who paused before offering only a “perhaps” when asked if he expected a call of congratulation from Vladimir Romanov. “We have had a lot of doom and gloom – and hands up we’ve brought a lot of it on ourselves – but the fans will get to go to Hampden again and today they would have seen a team put their bodies on the line and not give up when Inverness had a 2-v-1 situation.”
That was a references to a glaring chance passed up by Inverness’s Billy McKay, one of three Inverness had in the latter stages of a compelling encounter that Butcher rightly described as “more blood and thunder than technical”, with a “few meaty challenges”. The technicalities of chance-taking deserted a side whose attacking amoury has been the chief weapon in a run that before yesterday had previously produced only one defeat in 21 games. That struck to the heart of the Inverness manager more than the loss on penalties, with substitute Philip Roberts hoisting his effort over the bar after the previous nine had been netted. “We win together and lose together and it is not a nice feeling to lose when I feel we should have won, should be in the final,” he said. “We had more than enough chances to win two or three games but didn’t take them and it’s not like us. We have been on a great run and we will bounce back.”
Butcher looked as if he wanted to bounce Ngoo after the striker was booked for a clash with Gary Warren, pointing and mouthing at him on the touchline for what seemed an age. “He had more fouls in the game than all the other players put together after his booking,” Butcher said of the bustling, all arms-and-legs forward. “He kicked our player, who had a rip in his socks. I wish I had been playing, there would have been a few rips in his socks,” the Inverness manager said in the only sour note of a post-match which he began by congratulating Hearts.
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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