Late Little strike denies Hearts

BY foxsports • January 23, 2010

The Edinburgh side thought they had grabbed the winner through Scott Robinson just a couple of minutes after they were reduced to 10 men when Christian Nade saw red. But it was Little - who came off the bench with 11 minutes to go - who had the final say with a last-gasp equaliser for Walter Smith's men. Kyle Lafferty recovered from flu to start the game, along with John Fleck, with fellow forwards Kris Boyd, Kenny Miller, Nacho Novo and Steven Naismith all out through injury. Despite having limited personnel to select from, the Scottish champions were boosted by the news that Pedro Mendes was named on the bench - his first involvement since suffering a knee injury back in October. Hearts also made two changes from their win over St Mirren last week, with Ian Black and Lee Wallace added to the starting line-up. Ruben Palazuelos was suspended and David Templeton was injured. The visitors had the first real chance of the game when Robinson's pass was collected by Michael Stewart, who went on a charging run before laying off for Nade only for the Jambos forward to blast well over from the edge of the box. At the other end, Lafferty tried his luck with a point-blank shot from inside the area but goalkeeper Marian Kello managed to smothered comfortably. Steven Whittaker then attempted to pick out Lee McCulloch for the header in front of goal but Kello was first to the ball and the chance was lost. Rangers had the chance to pile on the pressure when Fleck was fouled by Black 25 yards out. Steven Davis stepped up for the free-kick and a decent effort from the midfielder saw Kello just manage to beat the shot away from goal low to his right. Kevin Thomson then picked out the head of Kirk Broadfoot with a free-kick of his own but the big full-back was off-target and nodded just over. By now, Rangers were dominating possession and Sasa Papac raced down the left flank before setting up the shot for Lafferty, who turned and bulleted narrowly over the crossbar. A lack of communication almost gifted Hearts the opener shortly after the restart. A reasonably harmless effort from Nade was left by Danny Wilson for Allan McGregor but, caught off-guard, the Rangers goalkeeper had to throw himself across goal and push to safety at the back post. Rangers recovered from that scare and Fleck went on a decent run before attempting to cut-back for Lafferty from the by-line but Ismael Bouzid was first to the ball to stab wide before the striker could connect. Fleck then had a go himself with a lovely, curling effort which flashed past the up-right from 25 yards and drew gasps from the crowd. The teenager was involved again when he bore down on goal before slipping through for Lafferty. But, despite Davis screaming for the ball in plenty of space, he opted to shoot himself and saw his effort blocked by Kello. Hearts were dealt a blow when Nade picked up two yellow cards in the space of four minutes - the second for foolishly kicking the ball away in frustration - and was dismissed by referee Calum Murray with 73 minutes gone. It was the Jambos who took the lead just two minutes later. An angled drive from Wallace was parried by McGregor and Robinson raced ahead of Papac to rifle home the rebound. Just when Hearts thought they had the three points in the bag, substitute Little grabbed the leveller in the final minute. McCulloch's initial effort was blocked and the youngster reacted quickly to lash home from close range.


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