London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Page <-Team Thu 02 Jan 2003 Hearts 4 Hibernian 4 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Craig Levein <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Stuart Dougal
[D Townsley 11] ;[T McManus 16] ;[C James 89] ;[G Brebner 91]
1 of 006 Steven Pressley pen 29 ;Mark de Vries 60 ;Graham Weir 94 ;Graham Weir 95 L SPL H

Weir is hero in mad finale


Hearts 4
Pressley (29 pen), De Vries (62), Weir (90, 90)
Hibernian 4
Townsley (11), McManus (16), James (89), Brebner (90)

MADNESS, madness, they call it madness. Just when you thought the Edinburgh derby could not get any more dramatic, up popped one of the most bizarre and enthralling final acts in the history of the fixture.

What happened in regulation time was remarkable enough. Hearts had fought back from 2-0 to 2-2, and, with minutes to go, the match looked like petering out as a draw, both sets of players having given their all on an energy-sapping surface. Then a Hibs corner broke to Craig James, who drove the ball into the net to put his team ahead again.

The Hibs section of the sell-out crowd must have regarded that goal as their equivalent of Phil Stamp’s late winner for Hearts in the last derby. And, if there were still a few doubters left then, there cannot have been any remaining a minute into injury time when Grant Brebner scored Hibs’ fourth, getting to the rebound from Roddy McKenzie’s save of a Mixu Paatelainen penalty after Steven Pressley had appeared to handle the ball in the area.

But the fourth official had signalled four minutes of stoppage time, and referee Stuart Dougal added more time on after being forced to stop the game to remove a vodka bottle from the pitch. In the dying seconds, Graham Weir grabbed what seemed to be no more than a consolation for Hearts when he prodded home from close range.

And then, in a truly frenzied finish, the substitute, who had been his team’s match-winner on Sunday against Dundee, scored again when he hooked in Mark de Vries’ cross.

A distraught Hibs side barely had time to restart the match before the final whistle blew. The result meant a point apiece, but there was no doubting which side felt like winners, and which like losers.

The aim of both had been to ensure they went into the winter break in third place. One goal to the good, but three points behind before yesterday’s game, Hibs required any sort of win. For Hearts, a draw would be enough. The late goals were thus doubly significant, and added to the respective misery and joy of the teams.

Whether you regarded the climax of the match with joy, dejection or the sheer bemusement of the neutral, there was no denying its dramatic impact. Nor was there any denying that Hibs should have been prepared to deal with it: in the first derby of the season two of De Vries’ four goals came in the dying minutes; in November, both goals in Hearts’ 2-1 win came very late; they might have known that Craig Levein’s side would not accept defeat meekly.

The visitors probably thought they had done enough to win the match twice. They were much the more competent team in the opening 30 minutes, and weathered the storm in the second half when Hearts had gone all out in search of a winner. Yet they simply could not perform what should be an elementary task: closing the game down when you have a two-goal lead with three minutes to play.

At least Hibs have a few weeks in which to lick their wounds, and reflect on how they have improved significantly after a poor start to the league campaign. And, for all that the visitors felt aggrieved not to have won, Hearts would have felt it an unjust reflection on their own efforts over the course of the season so far had they fallen below their arch-rivals.

The shallowness of the Tynecastle squad makes them hostages to fortune, and whether they remain third at the end of the season will depend to an extent on the avoidance of too many injuries. Yet while they remain vulnerable, they are usually, at anything approaching full strength, a well-balanced and effective outfit. Hearts began yesterday just one player short of their first-choice 11, with Stamp not being risked from the start because of a lingering leg injury. The former Middlesbrough player has been talismanic at times, but even so, his absence alone cannot be held responsible for the way in which Hearts conceded control of the midfield - where Hibs were without flu victim John O’Neil - in the opening 15 minutes.

Hibs’ opening goal owed a lot to their opponents, and in particular to Alan Maybury. The Irishman had plenty time to direct a through ball back to McKenzie, but he failed to get enough on his header, allowing Derek Townsley to nip in, go round McKenzie, and tap the ball into the unguarded net.

Five minutes later James, probably the most active player on the field in that opening spell, sent an outswinger into the box, and the diminutive Tam McManus outjumped the Hearts’ defence to head home.

Hearts needed a break to get back into the match, and they got one when Nick Colgan’s foot made contact with Andy Kirk as the striker tried to take the ball round him. The decision was a bit of a bet-hedger - a penalty for Hearts but only a yellow card for the goalkeeper. Steven Pressley stepped up to take the spot-kick, and calmly slotted home what was his club’s 400th goal against Hibs.

Hearts were on top for most of the second half, and got their equaliser when Kirk put De Vries through and the Dutchman rounded Colgan to score. The match calmed down after that, which is to say that for a while it was played at no more than its customary level of frenzy. Then came the ending: unforgettable, scarcely credible, and surely one of the most crazily entertaining climaxes of a game ever seen in Gorgie.

Hearts: McKenzie; Maybury, Mahe, Pressley, McKenna, Severin, De Vries, Kirk (Weir 82), Valois, Boyack (Simmons 75), McFarlane (Stamp 65). Subs not used: Gordon, Webster.

Hibs: Colgan; Smith, Zambernardi, Fenwick, Murray, McManus (Luna 86), Townsley (Brebner 65), Paatelainen, James, Wiss, Orman. Subs not used: Caig, Jack, Doumbe.

Referee: S Dougal.
Attendance: 17,732

Taken from the Scotsman

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