Hearts: Stendel predicts relegation fight will go down to final day

Hearts manager Daniel Stendel has predicted that his side’s fight for Scottish Premiership survival will go down the final day of the season.

The Jambos’ emphatic 3-1 derby win over Hibernian on Tuesday night lifted them off the foot of the table for a mere 24 hours, before Hamilton’s shock victory over Rangers the following night dragged them back to the foot of the table.

Stendel believes that his team will need to drag other sides into the basement battle and thinks that the fight for survival will go right down to the wire despite an upturn in form.

“We have five games left [before the split]. The situation is not comfortable for us, but it hasn’t changed,” he said. “We knew it would be good if we won this game, but it still hasn’t changed for us.

“It’s important we collect more points; not that we look to Hamilton every time, but we collect our points. We let a lot of points slip, and the time is over for us to do this again. When we win our points, we don’t depend on the others.

“We need more results. Sometimes we will win games and other times the other team will win games. I think it will be decided on the last game.

“The first time all season we won two big games in a row. It’s a good sign that we can do it.”

Stendel has recently abandoned his favoured gegenpressing approach for a more disciplined style of play, and impressive victories over the Hibees and Rangers have renewed optimism in what has been a disappointing season so far.

“I think this is the first time this season we won two big games in a row. It shows we can do it,” he said.

“The kind of play in both games is the main point for me to take from the games. We showed a mentality on Tuesday, and our discipline was important.

“The situation is good for me and the players. We have more experiences when we work together, and when we do work together and have the right discipline and behaviours on the pitch, we will get the chances to win the game.”

Hearts face a Motherwell side who claimed an impressive 4-1 victory over Ross County on Wednesday. The Jambos will still be without Toby Sibbick as he remains out through illness, though the defender may be back in training next week.

Scotland Women: Crichton believes Pinatar Cup is essential preparation for qualifiers

Scotland Women’s international Leeanne Crichton says that the Pinatar Cup is a chance for players to show off their credentials heading into the Euro 2021 qualifiers next month.

The Spain-based tournament serves as a refresher ahead of Scotland’s return to competitive matches in April, having already secured two wins in qualifying against Cyprus and Albania.

The Scots opened their tournament with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Ukraine on Wednesday and can retain their top spot in the group with victory over Northern Ireland tomorrow.

Speaking exclusively to EN4 News, Crichton said that it will be a chance for other players to stake a claim in the team.

“It is a chance to show what you can do over the nine days where you’ve got three games and the four or five training sessions,” she said.

“There are players that are the main part of this squad who are missing, so there won’t be many chances like this where you can actually get in the team. This is a really big opportunity for everyone to show what they can do and basically stake a claim in the camps that are coming up.”

Scotland boss Shelley Kerr handed a number of Scotland debuts in Murcia, including Martha Thomas, who opened the scoring against the Ukrainians.

Despite the new system and players, coupled with a lack of preparation time, Crichton was impressed with how her teammates have adjusted.

“It’s hard to gauge in terms of the performance because there have been so many changes in the team,” she admitted.

“It was pretty much a new backline, a new midfield and we changed the formation. We literally arrived on Monday, trained Tuesday and played the game on Wednesday, so there hasn’t been much prep time.

“I think that everybody did really well, and the clean sheet is always a bonus as well.

“It is absolutely about winning, but performances will be a big [aspect]. Individually, I think players will be focusing on their own performances. It’s just about keeping that continuity within the squad and looking to build that confidence. I think that is what we need heading into these big matches that we’re going to have in April and June.”

A win in the tournament would serve as Scotland’s perfect warm-up before a return to competitive action next month, with matches against Cyprus and Portugal to come.

Diamond Daniel and trophy droughts: Sport Quiz of the week!

This week’s sport quiz looks at Hearts’ derby drubbing of Hibs, Ronaldinho’s brush with the police and the Six Nations. Try your sporting knowledge below!

 

Hearts claim derby spoils, Rangers left red-faced: Scottish Premiership Podcast

Kris Gourlay is joined by Darren McConachie and Adam Mackintosh to discuss this week’s Scottish football action with the Edinburgh derby to dissect as well as the Rangers and Celtic games.

This edition is especially tear-filled as it will be the final EN4 News Sports Podcast of the season. A special thanks to Darren, Fergus Robb, Aaron Purewal, Andrew McDonald, Heather Miller, Adam Mackintosh and Gregor Kerr for joining me on the sofa this semester!

 

 

 

Stephen Robinson trial: Partner of Motherwell boss says she is ‘not a victim’

The partner of Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson has told court that she is “not a victim” after he was accused of assaulting her.

Robinson, 45, is on trial at Edinburgh Sherriff Court after being accused of assaulting Robyn Lauchlin on December 13 last year.

The pair were returning from a day spent in the capital before Robinson was accused of grabbing, pulling and shoving Lauchlin before pinning her against a fence.

Lauchlin said that she has sent six different emails, detailing her account of what happened during the alleged assault.

In response to her efforts, during which she was not allowed contact with Robinson, she received a response from victim support.

“I am not a victim; I find it insulting,” she said. “I find it very difficult why my voice isn’t being heard.

“I have never been more disappointed in the law. There has been no thought for the innocent in this.

“I’ve begged for a response. It is extremely concerning I have not been asked for the facts.”

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Robinson has also been accused of behaving in an aggressive manner by shouting, swearing and acting aggressively.

The fourth witness David McIlduff, 25, said: “I heard a good deal of shouting. He seemed to have her pinned against the wall. His hands were around her.”

“I’m sure I heard her shout ‘get away from me’ towards him. The gentleman was raging.

“It was aggressive enough that the woman tried to move away. The gentleman used enough force to keep her against the fence.”

The trial before Sheriff John Cook will resume next week.

Cup replay between Hearts and Rangers could postpone Tuesday’s Edinburgh derby

Tuesday night’s Edinburgh Derby at Easter Road could be postponed should Hearts’ Scottish Cup quarter-final against Rangers tomorrow go to a replay.

The Scottish FA has announced that a draw at Tynecastle will result in the teams facing again on Wednesday, March 4 at Ibrox.

With Rangers playing their Europa League round of 16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen over the following two weeks and the Scottish Cup semi-finals on the weekend of April 11, next week remains the only free slot to contest a replay.

Hearts are also facing the prospect of a fixture pile-up after their crucial game away to St Mirren was postponed last week due to heavy rain.

The relegation strugglers host Rangers in Gorgie tomorrow after upsetting Steven Gerrard’s side with a 2-1 victory in January, which remains manager Daniel Stendel’s only league win with the Jambos.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, Stendel said he hopes his team can take inspiration from that January performance.

“Rangers will be more focused for this game,” Stendel said. “The cup is always a good chance for everybody to win a title, especially after the first game.

“For us it is important that we know we can win. If we play at Tynecastle then we have the support that we need against Rangers. In our situation, every game is important.

“The difference is that this is a cup game and doesn’t change anything in the league, but it can give us a positive lift for the next couple of games, especially on Tuesday night. We need better results.”

Stendel claimed that he saw a big lift after beating Rangers, however he regretted his side’s failure to capitalise on that as they only won one of their next five games – a 1-0 victory over League One Falkirk in the previous round of the cup.

This quarter-final tie gives Hearts a chance to switch their focus from Premiership duty, where they find themselves two points adrift at the foot of the table.

The St Mirren postponement has resulted in the Jambos having an extra week to prepare for tomorrow’s game, but it may have been an unwelcome break as Stendel admitted time is running out for them to turn the tide.

“All that we do in training is good. The motivation is good. The only thing that doesn’t change is the results,” he said.

“We can look to other games and other teams, but the only team that we can change is us.”

“I said to the players, ‘we cannot score three goals every week’. The other team doesn’t get a lot of chances, but every chance is a goal. Every week it costs us points. We want one goal to be enough to win a game.”

The German will be boosted by the return of striker Liam Boyce, who struck the winning goal on his debut when the teams met in January, however he is still awaiting the return of defender Toby Sibbick after illness.

Hibernian manager Ross praises owner’s ambitious plans ahead of ‘exciting’ time for the club

Manager Jack Ross says it is an “exciting” time for Hibernian after owner Ron Gordon unveiled an ambitious five-year strategic plan for the club this week.

Speaking at the club’s annual general meeting on Wednesday, Gordon said he wished to double spending on players by 2023 and for Hibs to firmly establish themselves as a top-four side in Scotland.

“I’d heard Ron’s presentation prior to last night and it was part of the attraction for me coming to the club in the first place,” said Ross, who took over from former boss Paul Heckingbottom in November.

“When I met him initially, I had a feel for what he wanted to try and achieve for the club. I don’t view my position as being able to spend lots of money; it’s about trying to be part of a club that progress and becomes better.

“But, naturally, if we find ourselves in a position further down the line where we’re able to recruit even higher quality players in one or two positions then there’s an obvious benefit to do that, but you have to use the resources in the right way as well.

“His ambition and his plans for the club are exciting for everybody involved – those who follow the club and those who come to work with it.”

Gordon also outlined his vision for Hibs to consistently challenge in Scotland’s two domestic cup competitions, as well as securing regular qualification for European competitions.

The capital club face Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup quarter-finals tonight at Easter Road, while their push for a Europa League spot will continue with Tuesday night’s Edinburgh Derby at home to Hearts.

Ross insisted that his team’s focus is solely on tonight’s match against Championship side Inverness, and said that Hibs will be targeting further glory in the Scottish Cup following the club’s famous triumph in 2016.

“The fixture on Tuesday has no relevance to us at the moment,” Ross said.

“Our preparation this week has been all about this game on Friday. We spoke immediately after the game on Saturday [against Livingston] about the significance of this game and the prize at stake for us if we win it, and the potential prize if we keep winning games in the tournament.

“We set out from the first match we played in the tournament against Dundee United to try and win the competition.

“It’s a realistic aim for us and so far we have navigated ourselves well through the tournament, and hopefully we can continue that on Friday.”

BSC Glasgow: Inside the amateur team plotting to shock Hibs in the Scottish Cup

 

BSC Glasgow manager Stephen Swift says it would be the “biggest result in Scottish Cup history” if his Lowland League side were to defeat Hibernian on Sunday.

Hibs are huge favourites to win the fifth-round tie, and the pressure will be on the Edinburgh side to avoid embarrassment and reach the quarter-finals.

Swift has envisioned three outcomes from the game, acknowledging that a heavy defeat to Premiership opposition is more than possible, but says a win for his team would rank as the greatest in 148 years of Scottish Cup upsets.

“If Hibs go and wipe the floor with us we can look back and say that it was maybe a bridge too far,” Swift told EN4 News. “The other scenario is if we lose narrowly but the boys give a good account of ourselves, we can really be proud of them.

“But if the miracle did happen and we won, it would be the biggest result in Scottish Cup history.

“We’ve got the three scenarios there, but with any one of them we’ll be delighted with how we’ve equipped ourselves in this Scottish Cup run. There’s no pressure, [on us] and we will try to enjoy the game.”

BSC Glasgow, who were established in 2014, reached the fifth round of the competition for the first time in the club’s short history by defeating East Kilbride in the previous round.

(Credit: Jamie Braidwood)

But it was their third-round win over League One opponents East Fife that made headlines, as Swift’s men fought back from 3-1 down to win 4-3 in stoppage time.

“That shows the belief within this group that they can actually be under that much adversity and come out with a win,” Swift said.

“However, we’ve got to have huge respect for Hibs; they’re four tiers above us in the leagues. But our players are under no pressure, and we’ll give it our best shot.”

There is no doubt that a win for the Glasgow outfit would eclipse other famous Scottish Cup shocks, such as Albion Rovers’ win over Motherwell in 2013, or Celtic’s defeat to Inverness Caledonian Thistle in 2000.

Swift admits that he has faced sleepless nights thinking about how his side are going to achieve the impossible.

It is often tempting for a manager facing such unfavourable odds to surrender possession and play with 11 men behind the ball, but the boss is determined that his side play to their strengths.

“I’ve been up a couple of nights thinking about what I’m trying to do,” said Smith, who had a 16-year professional career playing for sides such as Cowdenbeath and Stranraer.

“I could easily set up and be extremely hard to beat, we will need to compact, organised and transition into our positions quickly, but one thing I don’t want to lose is our identity.

“I want us to give it a go, so it’s not a case of Hibs having wave after wave of attack. We’ve got to try and give a bit as well, I think that’s important and that’s the romance of the cup.

“If I went away and set up to not get beat heavily and we came away with a 2-0 defeat but never had a shot on goal, I’d probably be disappointed with myself, and I’d be doing a disservice to the players.”

One thing that BSC Glasgow will need if they are to take the game to Hibs is goals. The strike partnership of Thomas Collins and Thomas Orr has led to 31 goals so far this season and looks to be their biggest threat.

Collins, whose 17 goals this season make him the club’s top scorer, told EN4 News that he has been studying Sunday’s opponents and is confident of adding to his tally.

 

“Hibs are a strong side, but I watched them over the weekend and they’ve got weaknesses,” Collins said.

“Obviously they were playing another Premiership side but I believe we can create chances, and if I get a chance inside the box I feel positive that I can score a goal.”

On the tie, Collins added: “There’s a real buzz and excitement about the place. It’s a massive game for the club.

“Not only are we excited about the game, but there’s a belief that we can go and do something special.

“You’ve seen throughout the season that there’s a spirit within this team. We’ve come from behind or we can go ahead early and go and capitalise on those leads and see out games.

“So no matter how the game pans out on Sunday, we’ve got a great chance of getting a positive result.”

Kick-off is at 12pm on Sunday at Alloa Athletic’s Indodrill Stadium.

“We can’t wait to get started” – Livingston Women’s FC look for dream debut as team prepare for first competitive fixture

Credit: VFSportsPix

 

Livingston Women’s FC head coach Paul Jaconelli has told EN4 News that he “can’t wait to get started” ahead of the club’s competitive debut this weekend.

The club was only created in December 2019 after a partnership was formed with fellow West Lothian side Blackburn United.

Head coach Paul Jaconelli is the first ever manager in the new side’s dugout and he believes there is a gap for the club to take advantage of.

“There has been a lot of restructuring over the last year within the women’s game in Scotland, and we feel we have a really good opportunity to get ourselves to a level above,” he said ahead of the big kick-off.

“We have signed some very good players from the highest level in the game, and we can’t wait to get started competitively.”

The Lionesses will compete in the Scottish Women’s Football South Division, which will see them take on Edinburgh City Ladies at the Tony Macaroni Arena on Sunday.

Their alliance with Blackburn United means that the most senior players from The Burnie will play under the Livingston WFC banner along with some new signings.

Credit: VFSportsPix

Speaking on the link-up, Jaconelli said: ‘’This alliance gave not only Livingston, but also Blackburn a stronger brand and a very good pathway, which is a great attraction for potential new players as well as our loyal players who have been with us through thick and thin.”

But they are not underestimating their opponents come Sunday.

“Edinburgh City are a brand new team, so are very much an unknown quantity right now. They have kept themselves well under the radar, so we aren’t sure what to expect from the weekend.”

Women’s football has seen a significant growth in Scotland over the past few years, with the national team qualifying for the World Cup in France last year.

Captain Vicky Wood, who will be the first player to lead out the new side, says the effect is being felt at all levels.

She told EN4 News: “For me personally, it’s had a massive impact. Girls’ football was almost non-existent when I was growing up.

“Now you can see how far it’s come with the number of girls and women who play.”

Rangers earn priceless win over Hibs to keep title alive: Scottish football podcast

Kris Gourlay is joined this week by Darren McConachie as well as new guests, Heather Miller and Andrew McDonald to run through Wednesday’s Scottish Premiership action and preview this weekend’s Scottish Cup 5th round ties:

 

 

 

 

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