Heart of Midlothian 0 Livingston 0
Ladbrokes Premiership – Wednesday 6th February 2019 – Tynecastle Park
Football has been described on many occasions as being ‘the beautiful game’. Sadly, it was anything but beautiful at Tynecastle on Wednesday evening as Hearts and Livingston slugged it out like two heavyweight fighters trying to batter each other into submission. The result was another word beginning with ‘b’ springing to mind – brutality.
Following on from Hearts 2-1 defeat from Dundee a fortnight ago perhaps the club should seek to ban midweek games at Tynecastle. If you’re expecting a detailed match report on tonight’s events, the truth is there isn’t much to report on.
Hearts manager Craig Levein made one change to the team that defeated Kilmarnock last Friday evening – Olly Lee replacing Callumn Morrison. There was also the welcome sight of striker Uche Ikpeazu on the substitute’s bench, having been out injured since September.
As was the case at the Dundee game the atmosphere inside Tynecastle was muted. Perhaps understandably so as the football on offer was hardly likely to have one on the edge of their seat – unless you were intending to head for the exits.
Livingston came with a game plan to frustrate their hosts and it worked to perfection. Long ball after long ball was punted downfield with neither keeper seriously tested. Steven Naismith did have the ball in the net early in the first half, but his headed effort was deemed offside.
In the second half Livingston did force home keeper Colin Doyle into a save when he tipped a header from Hardie over the crossbar. Hearts brought on Ikpeazu for the final half an hour and the big man made his considerable presence felt. But Hearts could have played all night without scoring and the boos from the home support at the end of the game told its own story.
Livvy resorted to launching the ball skywards at every opportunity and their overly physical approach and timewasting tactics made one wonder if this is deemed as being successful in Scottish football. If it is then the game is in trouble. There has been much talk in the news recently about the disruption drones are causing Britain’s airports. If there was any disruption to Edinburgh airport tonight it wasn’t caused by a drone – it was most probably by a clearance from a Livingston defender. It certainly isn’t attractive but their joy at securing a point was illustrated when their players went to take the applause of the handful of Livvy fans in the Roseburn Stand at the end of the game.
Hearts again looked utterly clueless in the final third of the field and their inability to carve out any real threat meant they missed the chance to close the gap on those clubs ahead of them in the Ladbrokes Premiership – Kilmarnock and Aberdeen who both dropped points tonight.
Craig Levein told BBC Sport Scotland after the game: “We’re kicking ourselves because Aberdeen lost, and Kilmarnock drew. We had an opportunity to close up on the teams round about us. That’s a bit frustrating.
“The good thing for me is that Uche Ikpeazu came back into the side and looked like he had never been away. He was a real threat when he came on. I thought the team played better when he went on.”
Hearts: Doyle, Smith, Shaughnessy (Morrison, 75′), Souttar, Berra, Bozanic (Ikpeazu, 65′), Lee, Clare, Djoum, Naismith, Mulraney (Mitchell, 82′)
Livingston: Kelly, Lamie, Lithgow, Byrne, Pittman, Hardie (Erksine, 82′), Odoffin (Jacobs, 70′), Lawless, Halkett, Gallagher, Lawson (Sibbald, 78′)
Referee: Alan Muir
Top Man: Are you kidding?