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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth auth-> William Collum
[D Riordan 79]
3 of 007 Andrew Driver 22 ;Gary Glen 26L SPL H

Hearts 2 - 1 Hibernian: Resounding derby win rewards Jefferies for bold selections

Published Date: 22 March 2010
By Stuart Bathgate
FORGET the scoreline. In terms of goals this may have been the narrowest possible victory for Hearts, but in every other aspect of the game there was a gulf between the teams.
Two goals up at half-time, Hearts should have killed the game off in the first five minutes of the second half, when they spurned several excellent scoring chances. Even when fatigue began to set in and they conceded a late goal, they had the self-belief to remain on the front foot rather than dropping back to defend their lead.

In short, this was a triumph for Jim Jefferies in his first Edinburgh derby since returning to Tynecastle as manager. He got his team selection right, persuading players who had been out injured for some time that there was no better stage than this on which to make their return. And, with the help of assistant manager Billy Brown and first-team coach Gary Locke, he got his motivation right too.

As winger Andrew Driver revealed after the game, Jefferies kept his squad on their toes throughout the week by delaying the announcement of his team until the last possible moment. That ensured they remained on their toes throughout the match as well.

"If you do that, the subs prepare right as well," said Driver, who after not playing since the start of February had suggested to his boss that he might only be ready to make an appearance off the bench. "In the week leading up to it if you know you're on the bench you might take your foot off the pedal a little bit.

"No-one could do that today. He didn't tell us who was playing until 45 minutes before the kick-off. Me, Ian Black and Ruben Palazuelos didn't expect to play. The adrenalin pulled us through."

The delay was not all psychological. Jefferies himself thought that Palazuelos and Black would not make it until being advised by Hearts' medical staff on Thursday they would be fit. And, while the home team's injury problems were not as bad before the game as they had thought, they could hardly have been worse during the early stages of the match itself, when Dawid Kucharski was forced off with a leg knock and Black had to be substituted after suffering concussion.

Suso Santana, a winger, came on for Kucharski, a centre-half, and the enforced reshuffle worked in Hearts' favour, giving them more width and thus stretching Hibs. Hearts had already found some joy in attacking up the right flank through Jason Thomson, but Suso's greater pace was always likely to do greater damage.

Leaving Lewis Stevenson for dead, the winger sent in a cross-cum-shot which Graham Stack unwisely allowed to come back off his post. With no defenders tracking back with anything like the required urgency, Driver had the time to watch the ball bounce and shape his body to ensure he kept it down before shooting home with a powerful left-foot drive.

Three minutes later, with Ryan Stevenson on for Black, Driver turned provider from a corner. Eggert Jonsson lost his marker and headed on towards goal, then from no more than four yards out Gary Glen glanced it past Stack.

The Hibs defence remained in disarray at the set piece for the rest of the half, and only a header off the line by John Rankin prevented Jonsson, also with a header, from getting a third. John Hughes had been forced into a late alteration of his back four when Chris Hogg and Paul Hanlon failed fitness tests on Saturday morning, and he will be thankful that both are expected back for the Scottish Cup replay at Ross County tomorrow night. Ian Murray and Sol Bamba deserved pass marks, but Lewis Stevenson and Steven Thicot never settled at full-back.

In defence of the defence, it should be said that their colleagues were doing little to help relieve the pressure on them. The midfield were off the pace, and once they were two down you could almost see the confidence seeping out of them. Anthony Stokes looked dangerous up front at times when he got the ball, but the service to him was no more than sporadic.

In the second-half Hibs needed a goal quickly to change the game, but it was Hearts who should have extended their lead. First Suso managed to flick a David Obua cross over the bar from two or three yards out, then Glen broke clear and went past Stack only to overrun the ball. Minutes later the striker produced a good save from the goalkeeper with a header from a Laryea Kingston free-kick, and then Lewis Stevenson redeemed himself somewhat by getting back to clear a Driver lob off the line after Stack had been beaten.

With little more than ten minutes left, Derek Riordan got a goal back with a first-time finish at the back post after a David Wotherspoon cross from the right had eluded a tiring defence, but that was as good as it got for Hibs, who badly need a win to restore their confidence. Hearts are now only seven points behind them in sixth, and, while ensuring they finish in the upper half of the league will be the priority, they are not discounting the possibility of a fifth-place finish and a possible European slot.

"Don't count us out from doing it," said Driver. "The outlook's a lot more positive again. That performance ranks up there as one of the best games I've played in. I don't think I've been in a derby game like that where – I know we didn't in the end – but we could have cruised it in the last half-hour. I think the team was brilliant today."

Taken from the Scotsman

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