Alim Ozturk banned – but free to face Rangers

Alim Ozturk
Alim Ozturk
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ALIM OZTURK will miss Hearts’ match against Falkirk later this month after incurring a one-game ban.

The Turkish defender received a sixth league booking of the season against Hibs on Saturday to trigger a suspension, although he is free to face Dumbarton and Rangers in the next two weeks.

The rescheduling of the Ibrox fixture has worked in Hearts’ favour after it was moved from Saturday, January 17, to a 7.45pm kick-off the night before. Had it remained a Saturday match, Ozturk, left, would have been banned as SFA rules state that a suspension takes effect 14 days after the sixth booking.

As it stands, Ozturk will sit out the home fixture against Falkirk on Saturday, January 24. He was booked in the 78th minute of the Edinburgh derby for a late tackle on Hibs striker Jason Cummings.

After the match, Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson declared himself happy with the 1-1 scoreline following goals from Cummings and Jamie Walker. The result maintained the Tynecastle club’s unbeaten league run and kept them 19 points ahead of Hibs at the top of the Scottish Championship.

“It’s difficult because it was a derby match and they are always difficult to play in. People say there isn’t a lot of football played in them but I thought both teams tried to play. There were a lot of niggly fouls breaking the flow of the game up and there’s the tension as well,” said Neilson.

“We want to win every game but a point will do us. It keeps us marching on and keeps the unbeaten run going. It also keeps that 19-point gap between us and Hibs, which is huge for us at this point in the season.

“I wasn’t surprised by Hibs’ tempo. It was similar to how they played at Easter Road and they all try to press the ball. It’s difficult to play against. You need a wee bit of composure to try and pass it through. We did that in the second half and picked our passes better.”

Neilson praised his full-backs, Adam Eckersley and Callum Paterson, for getting forward frequently during the game. “I thought both full-backs were excellent,” he said. “We emphasised them being an attacking threat. We matched Hibs up the middle and tried to break our full-backs forward. It took a while to get going because it’s not something we’ve been used to doing. We only worked on it last week. We got Adam into the game a bit more than Callum.”