Maroon memories: Winger hits late derby winner

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Hearts 1-0 Hibs

March 15, 1997

WING-king Neil McCann was the toast of Tynecastle for the third league game in a row as his goal completed a hat-trick of wins for Hearts over Capital rivals Hibs to pile on the relegation worries for the Easter Road men.

An 81st-minute goal from Neil McCann separated the sides at Tynecastle, giving the Jambos ten points out of 12 from their matches against Hibs this season.

The former Scotland Under-21 star, who had also been on target in the wins over Kilmarnock and Raith Rovers, broke the deadlock in the 81st minute with another stunning finish.

The final derby of the season started on a sombre note as the capacity crowd observed a minute’s silence for former Hearts captain and chairman Bobby Parker, who died recently.

Hibs were looking for their first win of the season over their big rivals and, buoyed by a win over Dunfermline – their first under Jim Duffy – started brightly.

With Kilmarnock beating Motherwell 1-0, the result dropped Hibs to second-bottom in the table, leaving them fighting for their Premier Division lives.

In the final game at Tynecastle before work started on the new Gorgie Road end stand, Hearts held the upper-hand before the interval and came close to taking the lead when a scooped shot from Jim Hamilton was brilliantly tipped over by Jim Leighton.

Hibs had the game’s first chance within seconds of the opening whistle, Pat McGinlay found Keith Wright in space wide on the left and his low cross had to be treated with care by Gilles Rousset as Kevin Harper slid in at the near post. Colin Cameron earned a stern ticking off from referee Kenny Clark in the seventh minute after upending Charney near the halfway line.

From the free-kick, however, Hibs were almost punished for leaving themselves short-handed at the back.

It was a three-on-two situation in favour of Hearts when the ball landed at the feet of John Robertson on the halfway line and he quickly switched it inside to Jim Hamilton.

A similarly slick pass from Hamilton to McCann would have left Hibs in trouble, but the big striker delayed slightly and when he did get the ball, McCann screwed a shot wide of Leighton’s left-hand post.

Weir picked up the first booking of the game in the 16th minute after a foul on Chris Jackson, though it seemed that referee Clark decided to punish the big defender for persistent fouling rather than that offence alone. Hibs caused problems for Jim Jefferies’ side after the interval, when Rousset did well to block a Darren Jackson shot before tipping another effort from Harper over the bar.

At the other end, Cameron was inches away after sliding into meet a Neil Pointon cross at the back post, but the game looked to be heading for a draw when McCann struck.

Pointon was the creator, playing a return pass to McCann in the box and, after skipping past a couple of Hibs defenders, he slammed a right-foot shot past Leighton.

Hibs, to their credit, battled right to the end in a bid to salvage a point, but it was Hearts who came closest to adding to their tally when David Weir shot just wide after meeting a cross from Steve Fulton.