Two Australian free-kicks secured a 2-0 victory for Hearts in the reserve Edinburgh Derby at Oriam this afternoon.
Oliver Bozanic and Ben Garuccio struck two sumptuous set-pieces to win the Reserve League meeting between the two Capital clubs.
Bozanic opened the scoring minutes from half-time with an exquisite dead-ball effort. His compatriot Garuccio produced a similarly impressive free-kick early in the second half to put the Tynecastle side in control.
Hibs named a less experienced side than Hearts despite Ofir Marciano keeping goal, and Oli Shaw lining up in attack. That was also the case when these clubs met in the Reserve Cup last month. The Tynecastle team triumphed on that occasion and were seeking a repeat inside the plush Oriam Scotland astrodome.
Dutch internationalist Miquel Nelom started for Hibs and got forward well before being replaced on 67 minutes by Kane O’Connor after picking up a knock.
Both teams struggled to create clear scoring chances during a hectic opening 45 minutes. Clevid Dikamona did make an important block to smother Josh Campbell’s shot on the edge of the Hearts penalty area. The Congolese international centre-back only arrived in Gorgie last month and stood out throughout this second-string encounter.
Another Hearts player looking confident and eager to assert himself was winger Danny Amankwaa. Hibs’ biggest threat came down their left through winger Jamie Gullan, but in truth the game remained devoid of any major incidents until two minutes before the break.
Hearts were awarded a free-kick when striker Craig Wighton was tripped from behind by Sean Mackie, resulting in a booking for the young Easter Road defender. Bozanic stepped up 20 yards out to curl an impressive left-footed set-piece over the wall and away from Marciano into the net. That gave those in maroon the advantage at the break in what was a close affair.
The second half was just five minutes old when Hearts doubled their advantage. Midfielder Alex Petkov was fouled almost 25 yards out and this time Garuccio dispatched a dipping free-kick into Marciano’s bottom right corner.
Hibs had a fine opportunity to reduce the deficit seconds later, but Campbell glanced Fraser Murray’s corner wide from close range. Then came a last-gasp clearance at the opposite end when Campbell intercepted Wighton’s effort on the Hibs goal line following excellent build-up work by Garuccio.
Substitute Euan Henderson then nodded a cross into Marciano’s arms. The Hibs keeper saved with his legs to deny Wighton again, whilst Hearts goalie Colin Doyle stopped Shaw before the end.
Hearts coach Andy Kirk was delighted with his team’s victory.
He said: “It’s great to win any game but it’s sweeter when it’s a derby. The two clubs are massive in this city so it’s great to play in these games and even better to win them.
“The boys are in a good place. Everything helps when the first team is winning at any club. Everything seems to run more smoothly. Everybody is eager to get back in a winning team and they have an opportunity to top up game time in the reserves.
“They need to impress the manager and show what they have that’s different to get back in the team.
“The two free-kicks were great and showed brilliant technique to get the ball up and over the wall. They were two different types of free-kick. Olly whipped his and Ben has this technique of getting it up and down quickly with a wee bit of dip.
“I’m disappointed we missed a few chances in the second half. We could have scored four or five if we’d been more ruthless. Hopefully we can instill that in them more.”
Hibs coach Grant Murray admitted the game was part of his young team’s learning curve.
He said: “We’re obviously disappointed in the result. I didn’t think first half there was much in it but we lost two cheap free-kicks. The second was stupid, we’re trying to play in the wrong area at the wrong time.
“We spoke about how we thought we could hurt them second half and three minutes in we find ourselves 2-0 down. After that, I didn’t think we had enough about us. It’s a different game, a derby, and we didn’t have that cutting edge to get ourselves back in to it.
“It’s a learning curve for them. Hearts had a very experienced side out but, from our point of vie,w that’s a good thing for our guys because they’ve got to learn quick. Whether it’s a reserve game or not, these first team guys that are playing treat it as a first team game. Hearts certainly treated it like that and we just didn’t have enough about us. Second half we didn’t get enough of the ball and I don’t think we treated it like a proper derby.
“Our guys should be treating it like a proper derby. They’re trying to get themselves a foot on the ladder. They’re young lads outwith Miquel [Nelom]. Oli’s played some first-team football, as has Ofir [Marciano].
“Apart from that, they’re young guys who should be out to stake a claim to be a Hibs player, but we were far short of that today.”
Murray revealed that the injury suffered by Nelom wasn’t serious.
“He’s fine. He just went over on his ankle. It’s probably the first time he’s been involved in an eleven-a-side game for a wee while, but he’s fine.”
Hibs (4-4-2): Marciano; Donaldson, Stirling, Mackie, Nelom; Murray, Campbell, Murray, Gullan; Allan, Shaw. Subs: Martin, O’Connor, Blake, Shanley, Gallantes.
Hearts (4-4-2): Doyle; Logan, Dikamona, Baur, Garuccio; Amankwaa, Petkov, Bozanic, Mulraney; Wighton, McDonald. Subs: Silva, C Smith, Gajda, Hickey, Zanatta, Henderson, Ritchie.
Referee: Duncan Smith.