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Heart of Midlothian 3 - 1 Aberdeen

HT Score: Heart of Midlothian 1 - 1 Aberdeen

Heart of Midlothian scorers: Gronlund 38, Fulton 55, Wales 62
Aberdeen scorers: Bisconti 45.

12/01/2002 | KO: 15:00

Dons dumped as Bisconti sees red

Aberdeen surrendered fourth place to their hosts as they crumbled in the second half at Tynecastle. After a great first half performance when they outplayed the home team, things went badly wrong in the second period as they lost two goals and had Roberto Bisconti dismissed in the space of ten minutes. A real Jekyll and Hyde performance by the Dons that left them teetering dangerously on the edge of a slump.

Hearts created the first opening in the 2nd minute when Fulton collected the ball on the edge of the box and hit a powerful effort inches over the Dons crossbar. Dadi then made his way forward before tumbling in the box. Referee Rowbotham quite rightly awarded a goal kick. In the 4th minute Esson made a fine save from a Fuller strike as the home side looked to gain an early advantage. The Dons were also forcing their way forward and McKenzie was called into action in the 7th minute to collect a Winters cross to deny Dadi.

As expected the pitch was cutting up badly and making it difficult to play decent football on the ground. The Dons had a great opportunity in the 14th minute when McNaughton swung in a deep cross from the left, but Winters header went wide. Two minutes later the Dons carved out another chance, but Bisconti's shot from the edge of the box went sailing into the stand. Aberdeen continued to dominate and went very close to opening their account in the 21st minute when Dadi collected a Guntveit knock down and hammered the ball against the base of the post. A minute later McAllister had a pot from 25 yards, which McKenzie held easily.

The Dons were by now enjoying the bulk of the play and they created another opening in the 28th minute when Winters tried to set up Guntveit, but the Hearts defence managed to scramble the ball clear. Two minutes later Mackie had a chance deep in the Hearts box, but the ball wouldn't sit down for him. In the 38th minute Hearts took the lead against the run of the play when Gronlund drove the ball into the net from 18 yards after Fuller set him up. The Dons had a chance to draw level in the 41st minute when Mackie used his pace to collect a through ball. Unfortunately his shot was too high to worry the keeper. Darren Young hit a sweet 20-yard shot in the 44th minute, which McKenzie did well to hold. The Dons were rewarded however in the 45th minute when they hit a deserved equaliser. Mackie swung in a cross from the right and Winters knocked it on to Roberto Bisconti who then hammered home his first competitive strike for the club.

Hearts had all the early play in the opening period as the Dons failed to clear their lines. Esson was forced to punch clear and Fulton shot over the crossbar in the 47th minute. The Dons finally broke out and some excellent footwork by McNaughton set up Mackie, but just as he was about to shoot Pressley got back to block. Hearts almost regained the lead in the 53rd minute when Esson flapped at a Corner. The ball broke to McKenna and the young keeper recovered to block the fierce drive. The Dons immediately broke up field and Winters delivered a fine cross, which McKenzie literally collected from Mackie's head.

The Hearts pressure paid off in the 55th minute when Fulton ran on to a through ball and fired beyond Esson. This stung the Dons back into action and Guntveit went close before a Winters free kick went inches over the bar in the 59th minute. However, all the fine work of the opening period was lost in the space of two minutes. In the 62nd minute Hearts added a third when they broke from a Dons attack. Pressley fired the ball off the crossbar and Wales was quickest to react to the rebound and netted. Two minutes later it was curtains when Bisconti was sensationally ordered off. The Belgian had been penalised for a foul and he protested that he had won the ball. In his frustration he kicked the ball against the advertising boards. Rowbotham proceeded to show two yellow cards and Roberto took an early bath. [audio: can't criticise]

Russell Anderson replaced Dadi in the 69th minute, with McNaughton moving into midfield. Hearts were now enjoying the lion's share of the play against ten man Aberdeen and Esson had to produce a fine save to deny Fuller in the 72nd minute. The Jamaican should have made it four in the 76th minute when he broke from an Aberdeen corner kick. Ran the length of the pitch then shot wide when he only had Esson to beat. Aberdeen were now a shadow of the team that had impressed in the opening 45 minutes. Hearts went close again in the 84th minute when McKenna should have done better with a Fuller cut back. The defender blasted his effort over the crossbar. The game went flat and there was little further action as the Dons surrendered fourth place in the league.

Heart of Midlothian Teamsheet
McKenzie, Maybury, Mahe, Pressley, Webster, McKenna, Flogel, Gronlund, Fuller (Kirk 84), Fullton (Simmons 86), Wales. Unused Subs: Gordon, Boyack, Severin

Bookings:  Fuller 43,   McKenna 85
Aberdeen Teamsheet
Esson, McNaughton, McAllister, Whyte, McGuire, Bisconti, Young, Guntveit, Dadi (Anderson 69), Winters, Mackie (Thornley 86).

Unused Subs: Preece, Clark, Tiernan.

Bookings:  Bisconti (64),  Bisconti (64),  Young (81),  Bisconti (64).
Attendance: 12,902
Venue: Tynecastle, Edinburgh
Referee: J. Rowbotham, Kirkcaldy