|Report Index--> 2004-05--> All for 20050102|
|<-Page||<-Team||Sun 02 Jan 2005 Hibernian 1 Hearts 1||Team->||Page->|
|<-Srce||<-Type||Scotsman ------ Report||Type->||Srce->|
|John Robertson||<-auth||Mike Aitken||auth->||Douglas McDonald|
|[D Riordan 22]|
|16||of 025||Paul Hartley 55||L SPL||A|
Hibs settle for point after pounding Hearts
Adrenaline pumps through home side as they take game to rivals, but Gordon’s heroics secure a draw
Hibernian 1 - Riordan (24)
IN A compelling Edinburgh derby played throughout at a whirlwind pace, where both sides could make a justified case for picking up a win bonus, Hibs and Hearts began 2005 with a share of the points and the knowledge they had both contributed to a satisfyingly robust and exciting contest.
While Hibs started and finished the game as by far the more fluent and aggressive outfit - Derek Riordan’s 13th goal of the season gave Tony Mowbray’s side a deserved lead - Hearts took control of the action at the start of the second half and fashioned a crisp equaliser for Paul Hartley.
Over the piece, mind you, Hibs made far more scoring opportunities and would surely have come out in top but for a thrilling display of goalkeeping from Craig Gordon. Showing why, at 22, he’s Scotland’s first-choice, the international made at least four world-class saves to deny the Easter Road side’s forwards.
Although Hearts could have been swept aside by opponents fuelled by optimism and confidence, John Robertson’s men also raised their game in the second-half when Andy Webster’s header struck a post. What was harder to understand was why Phil Stamp was substituted when his drive in midfield had hauled the visitors back into the contest. Afterwards, John Robertson explained that the Englishman had taken a knock and was withdrawn as a precaution.
After Stamp left the field, Hibs again ran the show and produced a grandstand finish in which a calculator was required to keep track of the number of chances created. Marshalled superbly in defence by Ian Murray and spurred on in midfield by Stephen Glass and Craig Rocastle, this derby offered further evidence of the substantial progress being made at Easter Road.
Having made four changes from the side which lacked invention against Celtic - Andy Webster, Neil MacFarlane, Joe Hamill and Graham Weir were all recalled - Hearts tried to follow the advice of their previous coach, Craig Levein, and press Hibs as far up the park as possible.
Intention and achievement, though, are not always easy bedfellows. Hibs are among the most spirited sides in the SPL and made a typically ebullient start to a high-tempo match. But for a couple of splendid early saves from Gordon, the home side would have been in front after six minutes. The danger started when Alan Maybury tried to make up ground on Alen Orman and only succeeded in knocking the ball into the path of Dean Shiels. When Shiels’ shot spun off Gordon, the forward recovered to clip a cross towards Glass. The former Aberdeen man’s half-volley brought out an instinctive stop from the goalkeeper.
Hearts took longer to get into their stride and had to fight for every scrap in midfield. Although Stamp and Hamill were expected to spend most of their shift on the flanks, the pair also had to cut inside and help Hartley and MacFarlane against the superior strength and vision of Glass and Rocastle.
Although the visitors gave the ball away more cheaply than the home side, Hearts carried the greater threat in the air and should have scored themselves after 21 minutes when Hartley’s inswinging free-kick was knocked down by Mark De Vries into the path of Webster. While a striker would have struck the ball first time and scored, the young defender wanted an extra touch and the chance was lost.
Hearts were made to pay for that slackness three minutes later when a mistake by Hartley under pressure from Glass forced the midfielder to lose possession in a fraught area. Although O’Connor’s shot lacked venom as well as direction and the ball spun fortuitously off Shiels and across goal. When it reached Riordan, the 21-year-old was as composed and lethal as might have been expected before firing a powerful drive away from Gordon.
No-one could dispute Hibs deserved to go in front. They were quicker to the ball in the first half and, once in possession, did more with it. Hearts were just as keen to attack but more reliant on route one. Stamp’s cross from the left and De Vries’ header combined to set up a chance for Weir before Murray made an imperious interception.
Enjoying a more sustained period of pressure after falling behind, there was still an element of huffing and puffing about Hearts when they drove forward compared to the sleeker football played by Hibs. The reliance on De Vries, who spent too much of his time whingeing, was also misguided since the striker was a shadow of the player who first made his name in Scotland.
To their credit, Hearts raised the tempo of their efforts by a couple of notches at the start of the second-half and were aggrieved when David Murphy’s challenge on Hartley wasn’t punished by a free-kick and a red card for the Hibs full-back as the last man. Stamp was cautioned for an over-heated protest.
Whatever Robertson said to his players at half-time clearly had the desired effect as Robbie Neilson and Weir worked together in the 50th minute to create another opening for Hartley, who dived to head over the bar when it looked easier to hit the target.
The midfielder, though, made amends by scoring a merited equaliser in the 54th minute. Quick thinking by Neilson enabled the full-back to take one of his lethal throw-ins. Weir darted into space before providing asubtle touch inside to Hartley, who steered the ball past goalkeeper Simon Brown.
With Hibs unexpectedly on the rack, Hearts almost landed a knock-out blow in the 57th minute when Hamill’s swerving free-kick was glanced on by Webster. The header eluded Brown but thumped off a post and away from danger.
Having struggled for 20 minutes of the second period, Hibs re-grouped and came back into the match thanks to the prompting of Glass. When the irrepressible Riordan sent a tempting cross into the six-yard area in the 72nd minute, Sam Morrow’s header would have eluded most goalkeepers. Gordon, however, pulled off the save of the afternoon.
While Morrow had appeared at the start of the second-half as a replacement for the out-of-sorts Orman, the switch appeared to upset the balance of the home side until they got their second wind. Hearts, on the other hand, who were able to wrest control of midfield thanks largely to the efforts of the swashbuckling Stamp (who looked suitably bewildered when he was replaced near the end by Jamie McAllister), were less dominant after the Englishman’s departure. During this final phase of what was always a gripping contest - when Steven Pressley was stretchered off - the best chances fell to O’Connor, who could hardly believe he had hooked Shiels’ through ball over the bar in the 84th minute. During time added on for injury, Gordon made another wonderful save from Riordan’s free-kick and was indisputably the man of the match.
Hibernian: S Brown, Whittaker, Caldwell, Murray, Murphy, Orman (Morrow 45), Rocastle, Shiels, Glass, Riordan, O’Connor. Subs not used: A Brown, Smith, Dobbie, Fletcher, McCluskey, Shields.
Hearts: Gordon, Neilson, Pressley (Berra 90), Webster, Maybury, Stamp (McAllister 76), Hartley, MacFarlane, Hamill, Weir, de Vries (McKenna 79). Subs not used: Moilanen, Wyness, Pereira, Janczyk.
|<-Page||<-Team||Sun 02 Jan 2005 Hibernian 1 Hearts 1||Team->||Page->|