Tom STEVEN, in his first game in charge of Tynecastle since taking over the managerial reins less than two weeks ago, guided his new team to a deserved victory in the Central Taxis Premier Division.
It was Tynecastle’s first triumph in this fixture for over six years. “It was a fantastic start,” said Steven. “All of our players showed a real willingness to work. It was getting a bit tight towards the end when Lothian pushed players forward in search of an equaliser.”
The game was preceded by a minute’s applause for the Peebles Rovers match secretary Maurice Gordon, who died suddenly last weekend.
There was a near gale force wind blowing around Saughton Enclosure and it took both teams a few minutes to acclimatise. The first real effort was a shot from Lothian’s Joe Murray, who had an angled drive well saved by Derek Polowyj, while Tynecastle responded with a 30-yard free kick from Robbie Arthur which appeared to be sailing high over the crossbar until the wind intervened and the ball dipped ferociously before it crashed off the woodwork.
Tynecastle did take the lead midway through the first half when a long ball caught out the defence. The bouncing ball was picked up by teenager Josh Morris on the edge of the penalty box and he lobbed it over goalkeeper Kevin Swain.
Lothian replied with a Conan McDiarmid free-kick from 25 yards which was blocked. Then Jamie Hawkins hit the side netting before Murray struck a long-range effort over the crossbar. Lothian did have the ball in the net shortly before half-time but Kenny Fisher was in an offside position.
Tynecastle almost increased their advantage only three minutes into the second half when an Arthur free-kick from wide on the left was headed goal-wards by Morris to prompt a magnificent one-handed save from Swain. Another Arthur cross saw Tynecastle’s new signing, Jordan Caddow, put the ball inches past the post.
Murray, Lothian’s best attacking option, hit a 12-yard shot which Polowyj did well to hold but Tynecastle scored in the 68th minute when Arthur made a darting run from the halfway line and laid the ball to Morris who shot right-footed into the roof of the net from the edge of the penalty box.
Lothian did not throw in the towel and pulled a goal back 15 minutes from time. Murray controlled the ball expertly in the penalty box and swivelled to hit an unstoppable shot from 12 yards behind Polowyj.
The goal set up an exciting finale with Lothian pressing for the equaliser and, although there were several goalmouth scrambles, the Tynecastle defence held out to give them their second league win of the season and a very welcome three points for the new management team. “There is still a lot of work to be done, especially on our fitness levels, but that was a great platform to build on,” added Steven.
Mark Lamb, the Lothian manager, said: “I have no excuses. I felt that Tynecastle wanted a win more than us.”
Lothian Thistle: Swain, Wallace (Crawford, 30), Stevenson (Coleman, 70), McDiarmid, Wilkes, Dignan, Fisher, Hawkins, Murray, Lynes, Stewart. Subs: Murie, Rae, McDonagh.
Tynecastle: Polowyj, Aird, D McAleavy, Speed (Leslie, 82), Williams, Hastings, Morris (Morrison, 76), Mearns, Caddow, C McAleavy, Arthur. Subs: Foster, O’Hara, Vannet.
Referee: Jim McCunnie