JOHN ROBERTSON could not let an anniversary pass without grabbing a little something for himself.
The Hearts striker added another trinket to his collection as he made Edinburgh’s other half fork out yet again for the dubious privilege of knowing him.
Such was Hibs’ misery leading up to this derby fixture they must have felt like it had been 100 years since their last success, but when the statisticians pointed out before the game that the Tynecastle men were seeking their 100th win in the fixture, there was only ever going to be one person marking the occasion. Robertson once more put the Hibs to the sword, causing a familiar mortal blow with his 25th derby goal in the 18th minute which separated these sides for most of the game.
Even when Robertson departed the stage, to a standing ovation in 67 minutes, his influence refused to yield. The striker’s replacement, Jose Quitongo, plundered a wonderful goal three minutes from the end to send the Hibs support scurrying for the exits.
Hearts, meanwhile, were moving in only one direction. This win kept them at the top of the Premier League and their momentum seemed certain to carry them along in the title race until the New Year at least.
Hibs should have taken the lead when Kevin Harper had a great chance after 15 minutes. Chic Charnley supplied him with the opening when his accurate pass arrived just as Harper’s marker, David Weir, slipped on the rain-soaked turf. Harper went haring away into the box faced only by Gilles Rousset, but he pulled his shot, although the Hearts keeper appeared to get a hand to it.
That miss was to prove costly because Hearts took the lead just three minutes later.
Stefano Salvatori’s deep cross stretched the Hibs defence and though Neil McCann’s return ball was no great threat, Jean-Marc Boco’s headed clearance landed at the feet of Gary Locke who put a low ball back into the box. Fortuitously, it took a deflection off Boco and sat up in front of Robertson, begging to be finished off, which the striker duly did, burying a low hard shot past Hibs keeper Ole Gottskalksson.
Hibs responded and the impressive Andy Dow almost set up an equaliser in the 26th minute with a cross to the near post, but Steve Crawford’s glancing header just missed the target.
Rousset was brought into action nine minutes after the break, denying Dow who had burst on to a Harper flick and then crashed a left-foot shot that was headed for the top corner of the goal until Rousset thrust up an arm to divert the ball onto the crossbar, which shivered as the Frenchman’s defenders cleared the danger.
Hearts were galvanised by that and re-established some control, with Jackson clearing a shot from Austrian Thomas Flogel off the line, and then substitute Quitongo struck.