Maroon Memories: Hearts punish Hibs for blunders

Roman Bednar hails Michal Pospisil, right
Roman Bednar hails Michal Pospisil, right
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Hearts maintained their push for European football with an Edinburgh derby win that owed much to the defensive shortcomings of their city rivals.

The Jambos were still in the hunt for third place and the reward of UEFA Cup football for the following season, but they’d have to win away to Kilmarnock and hope Aberdeen lost at home to Rangers on the final day of the SPL season.

For Hibs, it was another miserable day and their winless streak since lifting the CIS Cup continued.

The Hibees had made a habit out of gifting their local rivals goals in previous seasons and the visitors were at their calamitous worst right from kick-off.

Defenders Chris Hogg and Shelton Martis failed to deal with a long, high punt, letting the ball to bounce between them and Czech striker Michal Pospisil squeezed past his dithering opponents to slide in an angled shot inside the first 30 seconds.

Hibs immediately carved out two wonderful chances to level the game but teenage strikers Damon Gray and Steven Fletcher were both ponderous in front of goal, allowing defenders to close them down.

However, John Collins’ side continued to defend with all the composure of giraffes on ice and Hearts were pouring on the pressure.

Goalkeeper Andrew McNeil made a great reflex save to keep out a close-range Roman Bednar header and the keeper made another fine block to stop a fierce shot from the same player.

The 20-year-old custodian then undid his good work with a catastrophic blunder that led to his team falling further behind.

McNeil advanced to gather a loose ball but, under no pressure, let it squirm from his grasp and winger Andrew Driver was on hand to hook the ball into an empty net from 15 yards.

Guillaume Beuzelin tried his luck with a fizzing long-range effort for the visitors, but it flew straight at Hearts goalkeeper Craig Gordon.

McNeil had to look lively to tip over a free-kick from Laryea Kingston and there was a let-off for Hibs on the stroke of half-time when Christophe Berra’s header crashed off the crossbar.

The visitors made a bright start after the interval and Hearts defender Christos Karipidis was fortunate to see only one yellow card for violent hacks at Dean Shiels and David Murphy.

Gordon saved free-kicks from Merouane Zemmama and Fletcher, but the keeper had little else to do as his defenders kept Hibs at bay with ease.

In the final minute, the goal opened up for Shiels inside the penalty box, but the midfielder scuffed his shot, summing up a wretched day for the Hibees.

Hearts: Gordon, Karipidis, Zaliukas, Berra, Fyssas, Mikoliunas, Kingston, Ivaskevicius, Driver, Pospisil, Bednar.

Hibs: McNeil, Martis, Hogg, Jones, Whittaker, Shiels, Beuzelin, Stevenson, Murphy, Gray, Fletcher.