GRATEFUL to leave with a point was the general consensus from Hearts following an Edinburgh derby which didn’t quite go as planned. They were visiting Easter Road intending to celebrate May’s Scottish Cup final romp.
Most believed winning the actual game was a given, including many Hibs fans who chose to stay at home.Andy Driver capitalised on a weak headed backpass from Alan Maybury to score on 29 minutes, but Leigh Griffiths’ equaliser before half-time indicated the resilience lurking within Hibs. Hearts weren’t getting much their own way. Griffiths struck a post before scoring and, overall, it was the hosts who looked the more threatening in a match shorn of much genuine quality.
Whether Hearts bought into the pre-match hype is anyone’s guess. Hibs supporters seemed to, with only 9024 home fanscompared to 3863 away ones in the 12,887 crowd. Perhaps Liverpool was on Hearts’ minds after Friday’s Europa League play-off draw. They have now gone 12 derbies without defeat, a record to be proud of in itself. However, they toiled to find much rhythm yesterday and came close to losing their dominance of the capital city. “It was disappointing for us. We had high hopes coming here with the record we’ve had in recent years,” said Driver. “I think we were pretty lucky to get away with a draw in the end and we’ve got to learn from what happened. I don’t know what it was. At times we didn’t win second balls and we weren’t as hungry as it seemed they were.
“We did well during pre- season and this is a lesson for us that we can’t get ahead of ourselves. We’ve managed to get away with a draw and we need to learn from the mistakes. The attitude probably wasn’t right. We can’t let the same thing happen twice.”
John McGlynn, the Hearts manager, agreed with Driver by questioning his players’ approach to the season’s first derby. “It was a bit frustrating because we never got going,” he said. “After the 5-1 victory in the Scottish Cup final, coming out the blocks well last weekend, Hibs on the other hand didn’t, so this mental attitude to come down here and it was a matter of turning up kind of backfired.
“It doesn’t matter how much you try to put the message across that it won’t be like that this time, it’s a derby game and form goes out the window. I think we suffered mentally by not applying ourselves in the proper manner. We didn’t do as well because of thinking it was just a matter of turning up and winning the football match, which is not great. There are lessons to be learned.”
An indication that Hearts felt slightly flustered arrived shortly before Driver’s goal. David Templeton sped off on a meandering run past two opponents before being scythed down, not for the first time in the game. He reacted by kicking out from a grounded position and caught the Hibs captain James McPake around his midriff. Referee Willie Collum was on the spot but Templeton, much to his relief, was not punished.
“In the heat of the moment you don’t know what’s happened. Temps isn’t the kind of person who would want to hurt anyone,” said Driver. Television pictures confirmed the offence, which is now likely to be studied by Vincent Lunny, the Scottish Football Association’s compliance officer.
“I take it the referee saw it,” said McGlynn. “Obviously I can’t talk for him. He’s got two assistants and a fourth official and they’re all miked up and communicating with one another. If they thought it was a red card, they would’ve given him one. David, from my recollection, was being fouled and I thought he was getting a bit of rough treatment. Because of that, the referee’s eyes were on the situation. I’m sure he must have seen what happened.”
When Driver scored soon after, Hearts were expected to move into cruise control and take a stranglehold on the game. The goal was a personal nightmare for former Tynecastle defender Maybury, making his debut after crossing the Edinburgh divide to join Hibs.
The full-back headed a bouncing ball back towards his goalkeeper, Ben Williams, but did not make a strong enough connection. Driver showed excellent reactions to nip in and prod the ball into the unguarded net. “It’s one of those that you follow in 99 times and it gets headed back to the keeper. Then there’s that one time it’s going to fall for you, and luckily for me it did,” he said.
Griffiths equalised by taking David Wotherspoon’s through pass and sliding it beneath Jamie MacDonald into the corner of the net. The second period was a more balanced affair. Ryan McGowan headed Templeton’s corner wide after Williams flapped in the air, although at the other end there were further chances for McPake, Griffiths and Hibs substitute Ross Caldwell. There was a needless booking for Marius Zaliukas for goading the home support after momentum carried him off the field. That apart, there were few people unhappy when this scrappy and frequently untidy affair ended.
“I think we’ve got to be satisfied with a point because we didn’t play well,” said McGlynn. “We didn’t get anywhere near the heights we have been achieving, so we’ve got to be grateful for the draw. We got ourselves in front but I don’t think we deserved it, really. The second half was a bit more even but we just didn’t get going.
“Fair play to Hibs, they closed us down and pressed us. We didn’t help ourselves because we gave the ball away cheaply and didn’t get any flowing movement. There’s a lesson to be learned. I didn’t think their goal deflated us. The second half was more even. We were a bit too open at times. I wasn’t happy with the performance because we never got going at all.
“We have to be thankful that, on a day when we haven’t played anywhere near the standards we can do, we’ve taken a point.”