THERE were times when Maurice Johnston looked at the mayhem around him and shook his head. He may not be the player he once was, but he must have been wondering why fate had lured him back into the Scottish Premier Division. He still possesses good touch, but in this environment anyone with that quality or spark of ingenuity is a rare creature among the monoliths who abound in the modern game.
The robust, meaty athletes regard those who wish to play real football as little more than eccentrics. The fact that Hearts' powerful defender Neil Berry was a candidate for man of the match says much for this game, which Hearts seemed to have won before appalling defensive generosity presented Aberdeen with a point.
The Tynecastle side had taken the lead after only five minutes. Aberdeen's Brian Grant took possession inside his own box, but instead of relieving the danger he seemed to lose his nerve, hesitating for a second and losing the ball. John Robertson prodded the ball on to John Colquhoun. He scored easily, but fell as he did so.
Colquhoun did not recover, and was replaced by Alan Johnston, but Hearts then put Aberdeen under pressure without reaching any great heights.
Aberdeen continued to look like a team riddled with doubt, and their frustration manifested itself in stupid tackling. They had four players booked and one, Gary Smith, sent off. He was dismissed six minutes from time for an off-the-ball foul on Maurice Johnston.
Aberdeen scored 15 minutes from the end when Duncan Shearer, a substitute for Joe Miller, was allowed yards of space inside the box and he was able to take his time with the shot. The Hearts' manager, Sandy Clark, was entitled to believe his side had squandered a point. They finished the match the stronger side, while Aberdeen again were bereft of the composure and skill which usually typifies their play. In fact, Aberdeen have won only once on the road this season and their championship aspirations are beginning to look exhausted.Reuse content