London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Stuart Bathgate auth-> John Rowbotham
[G O'Connor 68] ;[D Shiels 73]
15 of 018 Lee Miller 39 L SPL H

Resolute Hibs bite back in capital crunch


Hearts 1 Miller (39)
Hibernian 2 O’Connor (68), Shiels (73)

Referee: J Rowbotham. Attendance: 17,673

HIBERNIAN strengthened their hopes of claiming the last remaining European place last night with their first win at Tynecastle since 1999. Behind at half-time after Simon Brown’s dreadful error had let in a header from Lee Miller, they first fought their way back into the game, then killed Hearts off with two strikes in five minutes.

Besides being ahead for almost half an hour, Hearts had created more chances. They paid dearly for failing to add to that solitary goal, however, and, now eight points behind their Edinburgh rivals with six games to play, have at best a slim hope of again claiming third place in the Premierleague.

After their weekend cup defeat by Dundee United this was a display of admirable character from Hibs, and a vindication of Tony Mowbray’s decision to go for the win. They are not home and dry yet, and must play Hearts again as well as fourth-placed Aberdeen, but will surely take great heart from this result. And, as their next game is at home to Livingston while Aberdeen visit Celtic Park, they have a fighting chance of stretching their advantage this weekend.

Both teams had been forced by ankle injuries to make alterations to their preferred back four. Robbie Neilson had not made a good enough recovery from the knock he took on Sunday to be selected, so Jason Thomson came in for just his second start at right-back for Hearts. For Hibs, Ian Murray returned from suspension to take the place of David Murphy who had limped off during Saturday’s Scottish Cup semi-final. There was a change apiece in midfield too, with Tony Mowbray preferring Antonio Murray to Stephen Fletcher, and John Robertson selecting Deividas Cesnauskis instead of Joe Hamill. The Lithuanian had certainly done more than enough to merit a starting place, having scored a spectacular goal against Celtic at Hampden after being introduced as a half-time substitute.

Unexpectedly, it fell to Craig Gordon to produce the first neat footballing touch of the evening. The home goalkeeper dealt adroitly with a precarious back-pass, dribbling calmly round the onrushing Derek Riordan before clearing upfield.

That was just about the only calm moment, however, in an opening ten-minute spell which was otherwise characteristically frenetic derby fare.

Neither side had the time in which to create anything from open play, and it was no surprise when the first save of the evening came from a set-piece. The move in question was a free-kick from a central position around 25 yards out, awarded when Ian Murray fouled Paul Hartley. The Hearts playmaker took the kick himself, but Simon Brown had positioned himself intelligently and hardly had to move to collect the ball.

Ian Murray was one of those most visibly affected by the atmosphere, and after quarter of an hour he became the first name in referee John Rowbotham’s book when he chopped down Cesnauskis out on Hearts’ right.

The home No48 looked the man most likely to make the difference, between the sides, and moments later he provided a tempting cross for Mark Burchill which the striker reached but could not direct on target.

It was by no means one-way traffic at this stage, but the next real chance also came at the Hibs end. Miller got his head to a corner from Jamie McAllister, and, with his goalkeeper stranded, Antonio Murray blocked on the line. Steven Pressley was so close to the rebound that he barely had time to react, and from a tight angle knocked the ball behind.

A sudden break and shot from Paul Hartley brought out another save by Simon Brown on the half-hour mark.

Though severely stretched out wide, Hibs were maintaining their organisation in central defence, where Gary Caldwell was playing with his usual assuredness.

Just as the visitors looked like getting to half-time without conceding a goal, however, they were let down by an inexplicable error from Simon Brown. When Thomson was nudged over by Stephen Glass, Hartley’s free-kick into the box was headed towards goal by Miller. The goalkeeper thought the header was drifting wide and let it go - only to look on aghast as the ball squeezed into the right-hand corner of his net.

The mistake was such a baffling lapse that it is sure to feature for decades to come in video montages of great goalkeeping gaffes.

Badly rattled, Hibs were fortunate that only six or seven minutes remained until half-time. But there was still time enough before the interval for Riordan to pick up a caution for a nasty-looking lunge which caught Cesnauskis in the groin. The winger walked off without apparent discomfort when the half-time whistle sounded.

McAllister was next in the book minutes into the second half when he clattered into Scott Brown with the ball long gone. It was a sign that Hearts were not wholly at ease with their lead - which could, indeed, have been wiped out shortly thereafter by Ian Murray.

Standing on the edge of the box, the Hibs captain shot first-time and fiercely, but Gordon got down smartly to save.

Both McAllister and Murray were living dangerously by this time, risking dismissal by following through needlessly. On the hour mark, Riordan had the ball in the net in a near-replica of George Best’s celebrated "goal" against Gordon Banks. As had happened in that incident, the Hibs player nicked the ball away from the goalkeeper as the latter threw it up to clear - and, just like 30-odd years ago, the referee ruled it off on the grounds that the attacking player had interfered with the goalkeeper’s clearance.

Amadou Konte then came on for Riordan, and Kevin Thomson, still making his way back to match fitness, replaced Ian Murray. Simon Brown then partially redeemed himself with an excellent diving save from Hartley, and that proved to be the Hearts midfielder’s last significant involvement in the match, as he was forced off with a leg knock. Marius Kizys came on, but before he had a chance to get a touch, Hibs were level.

Both Gordon and Jason Thomson went for a teasing ball into the box, and the young full-back got there first only to touch the ball into the path of Garry O’Connor. Opting for accuracy rather than power, the striker knocked the ball home from 15 yards.

After being on the ropes for so long, Hibs had bounced back, and within minutes were ahead. Konte should have scored with a header but hit it off the crossbar instead, but Dean Shiels was the first to react and slammed the ball into the roof of the net.

Hearts pressed relentlessly for the equaliser right to the end of the four minutes of stoppage time, but simply could not score.

Hearts: Gordon, Thomson (McKenna 77), Webster, Pressley, Wallace (Berra 74), McAllister, MacFarlane, Hartley (Kizys 67), Cesnauskis, Miller, Burchill. Subs not used: Moilanen, Wyness, Hamill, Stewart.

Hibs: Simon Brown, Whittaker, Caldwell, Smith, I Murray (K Thomson 61), Scott Brown, A Murray, D Shiels (Fletcher 84), S Glass, D Riordan (Konte 61), G O’Connor. Subs not used: A Brown, Hogg, Morrow, Sproule.

Taken from the Scotsman

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