Four talking points from Sunday's Edinburgh derby: Transformation of Hearts ace, quality in reserve plays key role, Hibs misery continues
The key talking points after Hearts knocked Hibs out of the Scottish Cup with a 3-0 win at Easter Road.
Toby Sibbick’s transformation is complete
In the 1-1 draw at Easter Road earlier in the season, Sibbick was one of several Hearts defenders at fault for Martin Boyle’s dramatic injury-time equaliser. Though blame deserved to be shared around, he took the brunt after an inauspicious start to his career at Tynecastle following his move from Barnsley last January. This escalated further with poor performances, notably in Europe, leading to rock-bottom confidence, an extended spell out of the side and his introduction being booed in a match at Tynecastle.
It’s actually strange that we’re talking about the same player after his performance in Sunday’s 3-0 victory. Sibbick, particularly in the second half, was imperious as Hearts withstood what Hibs had to throw at them. He then produced a moment which will be replayed by Jambos for years to come after charging up field, getting on the end of Stephen Humphrys through ball and dinking a finish over David Marshall.
The 23-year-old has been excellent since coming back into the side following the injury to Craig Halkett, but this was another level. His presence from the start meant Stephen Kingsley had to come off the bench and it’s already reached the point where he’s simply undroppable if he maintains this level of form.
Shankland wins the battle of Scotland strikers
Hibs had more possession and had many more shots on target than their visitors, but the difference in the two sides can perhaps be summed up by the contrasting fortunes of their leading marksmen.
Lawrence Shankland didn’t get much support or service through the majority of the match, yet Hearts were still able to fashion a chance for him to score (though, to be fair, he did a lot of the work himself) which he duly did with a great finish. Hibs, for all their pressure, failed to get anything into Kevin Nisbet that he could sink his teeth into. In fact, he was pretty anonymous throughout the match.
Depth in reserve plays a key role
Hearts made five substitutes during the course of the game and the majority made a significant impact. Stephen Humphrys provided a much-needed presence up top and notched two assists, Stephen Kingsley quietened Elie Youan, Jorge Grant gave better poise to the midfield and Nathaniel Atkinson, out of the favour of late, got stuck in with a couple of big tackles.
Hibs, meanwhile, brought on Harry McKirdy. The hosts could point to an extensive injury list, but it’s not like Hearts don’t have their problems in that department also. Each club have big squads, but while Hearts were able to fill a bench with those ready to make an impact, Lee Johnson didn’t even trust most of his reserves to do likewise.
Hibs misery train continues
Ten defeats in 14 games is a dreadful run as pressure increases on Lee Johnson and the club’s custodians with support protests planned over the running of the club. An incoming director of football could be a huge difference if they make the right appointment, but there’s so much to fix and so many big decisions to make that a tangible upturn in results may not arrive for a while yet.