JOHN COLLINS led his team to a CIS Cup quarter-final win over Hearts in only his second game in charge.
Collins didn’t enjoy the best of luck as a player in Edinburgh derbies, a mere three wins in 24 attempts, so there was little doubt he was going to celebrate this one.
Punching the air with delight, the new Hibs boss strode onto the Easter Road pitch on the final whistle to greet each and everyone of his players with a hug. And who could blame him? He’d seen his players totally outclass their Capital rivals.
How Hibs didn’t manage to win by more then one goal was the main talking point amongst supporters. One was enough though to bury a dismal Hearts outfit torn by internal unrest with pre-match rumours suggesting that French star Julien Brellier had stormed out of the away dressing-room and into a taxi on learning that his services were not required.
Collins’ enjoyment might have been enhanced had Hibs been able to add to Rob Jones’ first-half goal, the towering centre-half lashing the ball high into the net after central defenders Steven Pressley and Christophe Berra both missed Merouane Zemmama’s corner and goalkeeper Craig Gordon could only palm away Chris Killen’s shot.
Gordon kept his team in the game with a superb, instinctive save seven minutes later, standing his ground as Scott Brown and Zemmama played a delightful one-two only for the former’s parting shot to clip the outside of Gordon’s right boot and go wide.
Memories of how Hibs had been unable to hang onto a one-goal lead were all too vivid for the fans, conscious of how they’d surrendered a two-goal advantage to their rivals at the same venue two weeks before.
A one-goal lead is, of course, always a precarious position to be in but, if truth be told, Hibs were rarely in danger, Hearts failing to put one shot on target in the entire 90 minutes while it took them an astonishing 68 minutes to claim the first of their three corners.