Hibs claimed the bragging rights in the sixth annual Rivals4Charity match, with a 1-0 victory over Hearts at Easter Road yesterday.
Scott Kinnaird’s 25th-minute strike ensured victory for the Hibs supporters in the charity match that raises money for The Hibernian Community Foundation and The Big Hearts Community Trust.
Event organiser Scott Moncrieff was delighted with the day’s football. He said: “It was a really good standard of football and I think the crowd really enjoyed it. Just over 500 people turned out to see a great game. I think Hibs were well deserved winners, 1-0 actually flattered Hearts a bit.”
The early period of the match proved cagey, with both sides battling hard for possession.
Hibs keeper Scott Dowie was spared his blushes early on when his attempted clearance rebounded off forward Kenny Park, but the ball drifted just wide.
The home team began to get a foothold in the game and came close to taking the lead soon after. After a tidy first touch inside the penalty area, midfielder Gareth Manson was unlucky to see his right-footed effort strike Stuart Hogarth’s right-hand post.
And Hibs should have opened the scoring on 15 minutes.
After a brilliant cross from the left flank, forward Martin Cairney rose to meet the ball with his head but was denied by a spectacular one-handed save from Hogarth in the Hearts goal.
The hosts continued to dictate the play and they were rewarded after 25 minutes when they took the lead.
Left-back Scott Kinnaird found himself in acres of space on the right channel and unleashed a powerful strike from 25 yards past Stuart Hogarth, who was unable to parry the ball away from his own goal.
Hogarth made amends for his earlier error by twice denying Hibs further goals, first saving from the impressive Cairney and then again from Mark Griffiths’ low-struck volley.
Hearts made one change in the second half, with Liam Robertson, son of Hearts legend John, replacing Hogarth between the sticks.
Hibs nearly doubled their advantage on 50 minutes when Frankie Arthur’s long-range effort struck Robertson’s right-hand post.
And Dean Philp’s side thought they had gone two goals to the good just a minute later.
Martin Cairney’s close-range tap-in was belatedly ruled offside, causing some confusion among supporters and indeed the Easter Road stadium announcer.
Further chances for the hosts poured in with Frankie Arthur seeing his strike cleared off the goal-line by Hearts defender Greig Hogarth.
Hearts battled hard throughout, but were struggling to break down a solid home rearguard, with Lyle Smith in particular proving influential for Hibs.
The visitors were left to finish the game a man down on 70 minutes, when midfielder Dean Cunningham was dismissed for a second bookable offence, after fouling Gareth Manson.
Ironically, ten-man Hearts were galvanised by this and began to produce their best spell of the match, setting up a tense finale.
Front-man Michael Yuill cut inside from the right channel and his left-footed strike flew just over substitute stopper Chris Robertson’s crossbar.
The visitors then nearly snatched a draw from the jaws of defeat, when Lewis Muir found himself in space inside the area.
The Hearts man was unable to connect properly with his effort and it was eventually cleared off the line by centre-half Lyle Smith.
Hibs did eventually hang on for a thoroughly deserved victory, one that will live long in the memory for manager Dean Philp. After the match he said: “I thought we were fantastic, from start to finish we were the better team and I always had confidence in these guys. We do everything for charity but, once the money’s in, it’s all about winning.”
Hearts gaffer Alan McKay was gracious in defeat. He added: “Hibs were the better side and they deserved their win, I’m very disappointed. We won last year but our standard wasn’t good enough. We’ve came here to raise money for charity and have a good day and everybody has achieved that.”
Hibs squad: Scott Dowie, Scott Kinnaird, Lyle Smith, Mehdi Hireche, Keith Kinnaird, Frankie Arthur, Craig Robertson, Gareth Manson, Darren Nicol, Mark Griffiths, Martin Cairney, Chris Robertson, Ian Binning, Darren Walker, Gareth Baxter, Ryan Taylor.
Hearts squad: Stuart Hogarth, Jamie Pent, Andy Enwood, Greig Hogarth, Dean Clark, Stevie Park, Barry Watson, Dean Cunningham, Steven Bell, Kenny Park, Michael Yuill, Liam Robertson, Sean Jackson, Craig Hume, Adam Perry, Lewis Muir.