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<-Srce <-Type Telegraph ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Roddy Forsyth auth-> Douglas McDonald
[D Riordan 22]
17 of 025 Paul Hartley 55 L SPL A

Derby strike by Riordan raises his market value

By Roddy Forsyth

Hibernian (1) 1 Heart Of Midlothian (0) 1

They shared the spoils in an absorbing Edinburgh derby but Hibernian and Heart of Midlothian are braced for the onset of plunderers as the January transfer window gets under way.

Derek Riordan, who opened the scoring for Hibs midway through the first half, has attracted the attention of several clubs and a number of his youthful team-mates have had their talents monitored by a tribe of scouts.

Riordan's strike took his total for the season to 11 goals, the same number as Paul Hartley had run up for Hearts once he stroked home the equaliser soon after the restart but while the visiting fans in a handsome crowd of 17,259 celebrated, they are mindful of the prospect of a mass exodus from Tynecastle. A dozen Hearts players are out of contract at the end of the season and half of them are first-choice selections for John Robertson, who has no idea what the future holds.

The protracted change of control at Hearts, which has delayed the takeover by Lithuanian banker, Vladimir Romanov, until February, has effectively left Robertson helpless to influence the flow of talent in or out of the club.

"It's frustrating – that's the word," the Tynecastle manager said afterwards. "We're going to lose players, no doubt about that. We haven't heard of any money to spend so we don't know what the budget is in terms of bringing players in or offering contracts to players who are here.

"But if our lads continue to play with the spirit they showed today we'll be more than competitive".

Robertson's Hibs counterpart, Tony Mowbray, was philosophical about the prospect of a raid on his treasure chest of youthful potential. "I don't mind other clubs coming and watching our players. We have a lot of young lads at this club and they are great mates so I hope they will want to stay and be part of the good things that are happening here," said the Englishman.

The harsh truth is, though, that neither club can afford to turn away suitors, so there is no chance that the assembly of players who provided high-quality entertainment in this game will be preserved for much longer. A rare note of predictability was struck by Riordan and Hartley, each of whom is the top scorer for his side.

Riordan struck the opener just when Hearts seemed to have ridden out a vigorous series of raids by Hibs. Alan Maybury, tidying up close to his penalty area, played a pass infield to Hartley, a risky option.

Hartley was duly ambushed and when the ball was shuttled into the path of Riordan, he put his shot away crisply to beat Craig Gordon. Hibs, who had begun to lose their momentum, perked up again and took their lead into the dressing room.

Robertson then switched to a 4-3-3 formation with Phil Stamp deployed centrally to allow Hartley more latitude and the move yielded a prompt reward. Robbie Neilson took a long throw-in on the Hearts right, Graham Weir flicked on and Hartley met the ball with a clever feint at the near post to confound Simon Brown.

For a spell Hearts were rampant and Andy Webster's header diverted another Hartley attempt on to the post. Hibs were being outgunned in midfield but their sheer spirit turned the contest back in their favour and only poor finishing from a procession of chances – Sam Morrow will not want to watch any replays – denied them victory.

Hearts grumbled about a trip on Hartley by David Murphy which could have seen the Hibs defender ordered off – the referee judged the contact accidental – but Mowbray's players will brood over the opportunities they let slip towards the end.

Match Details

Hibernian (4-4-2): S Brown; Whittaker, Caldwell, Murray, Murphy; Orman (Morrow 46), Rocastle, Shiels, Glass; O'Connor, Riordan. Subs: A Brown (g), Smith, Dobbie, Fletcher, McCluskey, Shields. Goal: Riordan (24). Booked: Murphy, Murray, Glass.

Heart of Midlothian (4-4-2): Gordon; Neilson, Webster, Pressley (Berra 90), Maybury; Stamp (McAllister 74), Hartley, McFarlane, Hammill; Weir, De Vries (McKenna 80). Subs: Moilanen (g), Wyness, Pereira, Janczyk. Goal: Hartley (55). Booked: Stamp, McAllister.

Referee: D McDonald

Taken from

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