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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> Douglas McDonald
[D Riordan 22]
18 of 025 Paul Hartley 55 L SPL A

Mowbray knows that all is well when a derby draw fails to satisfy


ANY disappointment felt by Hibs in the aftermath of yesterday’s 1-1 draw will surely be short-lived. After creating more outright chances than Hearts, the Easter Road side understandably regarded the result as two points dropped rather than one gained, but the match still provided compelling evidence of the progress they have made in the past couple of months.

In the last Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle, just before Craig Levein left for Leicester, Hearts won the physical battle and the game 2-1. Hibs’ youngsters were "bullied" out of the match, according to some of their adherents, or spanked and sent home if you preferred Levein’s version of events.

This time, while they did not quite do enough to justify their status as favourites, Tony Mowbray’s side refused to concede second best. Indeed, they had more shots on goal, and more first-rate scoring opportunities. "The game ebbed and flowed," Mowbray said. "We had some good spells, and ultimately these are points dropped, because we had some clear-cut chances. They weren’t half chances.

"Sometimes that’s the way the game goes, but it’s disappointing, because - I’m sure like a lot of other football clubs - we practice finishing every day at training. Today they didn’t put them away."

The one Hibs did put away to take a half-time lead was converted by Derek Riordan. The fact that other chances fell to other players was the reason the home team did not add to their total, Mowbray opined tactfully.

"The boys all know Derek Riordan is the best finisher at the club. Sam Morrow and Garry O’Connor are going to score a lot of goals for us over the years, but today the chances fell to them and not to Derek."

One look at the league table shows why Hibs should not feel too upset for too long about their failure to defeat their city rivals. Nine points ahead of Hearts, they have made significant progress under Mowbray, and are deservedly in third place at present.

"All you can do is keep asking players to put demands on themselves and don’t let their standards slip," he said. "You’ve got to guard against complacency. We’ve still got to work hard."

Perhaps the only moment when Hibs let themselves down was Paul Hartley’s goal, which arose from a quickly taken throw-in from Robbie Neilson. More experienced defenders might have been more watchful and dealt with the danger, but Mowbray was in no mood for recriminations. "You can break any goal down and say it was disappointing, but at the same time there was plenty of cover there, he said. "And it was a good finish."

The Hibs boss was dismissive of a claim from the visiting goalscorer that Hibs might well have had David Murphy sent off for a trip on him as he chased a through ball. "Murphy didn’t break his stride," Mowbray said. "The referee said there was nothing in it. End of story."

The end of the whole story might have been very different had Craig Gordon in the Hearts goal not produced a first-rate save from a Riordan free-kick, as the Hibs goalscorer said. "Craig Gordon had a good save from me right at the death. Gary Caldwell told me not to shoot [from the free-kick], but I did anyway. "It would have been brilliant if I’d scored. It’s pretty disappointing. We should have won today with the chances we had."

Riordan will just have to make do, for the time being at least, with the chance he converted. Perhaps ill-advisedly, he chose to celebrate it right in front of the Hearts end, though was diplomatic enough to say he had not noticed any pies being thrown at him. "I loved it," he said. "I was down at that end - I’ve always wanted to do that since I was a wee laddie."

Relative to many players and to most successful teams, Riordan and his colleagues still are wee laddies. Under Mowbray, however, they have jettisoned some of the impetuosity of youth, while retaining the optimism which has been beaten out of many more seasoned campaigners.

There is no guarantee that Hibs will be ahead of their neighbours in the SPL by the time the next Edinburgh derby comes around - Hearts have a game in hand, for a start. For the moment, though, they are nine points clear - a position which, once the immediate disappointment has gone, might make them see this draw as a reason for some satisfaction.

"In the second half Hearts were good for 20 minutes and we were good for 20 minutes," Mowbray concluded. "We created more clear-cut chances in our 20, but a draw it is."

Taken from the Scotsman

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