Chaotic brawl and five red cards at Tynecastle as Hearts prevail with ten men to secure fourth place against Hibs
and live on Freeview channel 276
Hearts secured fourth place in the Premiership amid chaotic scenes as a mass brawl broke out at full-time at Tynecastle Park. The Edinburgh club held on for a 1-1 draw with ten men following Alex Cochrane’s first-half red card, but players and staff from both clubs became embroiled in ugly scenes at the final whistle leading to four further red cards.
Interim Hearts manager Steven Naismith and the Hibs head coach Lee Johnson engaged in a heated exchange after shaking hands, and thereafter players and coaches squared up. Several punches were thrown and the melee continued in the middle of the pitch before calm was restored. Afterwards, Johnson and Hibs substitute Rocky Bushiri were red carded along with Hearts’ substitute goalkeeper Ross Stewart and goalkeeping coach Paul Gallacher.
Johnson even had a hot-water bottle thrown in his direction from the home dugout after he entered the Hearts technical area to retrieve the ball. After the two managers frostily shook hands at full-time, Johnson appeared to dig Naismith in the ribs with his fist, before a skirmish erupted in the centre circle when Stewart leaned his elbow into the Hibs boss as he walked past him.
Hibs are also calling for an investigation is likely after substitute Marijan Cabraja appeared to be struck by a Hearts supporter while attempting to grab the ball to take a throw-in.
Pressed on why there was needle between he and Naismith, who has been in charge of Hearts since Johnson's former team-mate Robbie Neilson was sacked in April, the Hibs boss said: "He's had seven games as a manager and I just think the way he speaks is disrespectful to the previous manager. We'll see after 250 games if he's lucky enough to still be in charge of any club and if he still has that attitude."
Naismith dismissed Johnson's claims of disrespect towards Neilson. "He's fishing I think, that's what he's doing," he said. The 36-year-old also defended himself in the face of Johnson's dig about only having been a manager for seven games.
"I've got a 15-year career at the top level," he said. "I've managed to pull things from some of the best managers around Britain. I've been in a role for the last two years under arguably Scotland's best manager (Steve Clarke) for a long period of time. I'm not naive to think I know everything, but what I have done is my homework. I've had two solid years of good coaching."
Yutaro Oda’s first Hearts goal had given the hosts the lead before Kevin Nisbet’s free-kick brought Hibs level. The Easter Road side put their hosts under pressure in the second half but lacked the required quality to force a winning goal. Sitting two points behind Hearts in the league, they needed to win to climb above their rivals but instead finish fifth.
Hearts sat 11 points ahead of Hibs in mid-January but their decline throughout March and into April coincided with improvement from their rivals. Consequently, this encounter became a shoot-out for fourth place. It took those in maroon less than nine minutes to make their mark.
James Hill’s long throw was partially headed clear by the Hibs midfielder Jimmy Jeggo and Oda took possession at the edge of the penalty area. A touch with his right foot preceded a low left-footed shot through Lewis Stevenson’s legs and beyond goalkeeper David Marshall. With that, the Japanese dashed straight to Tynecastle’s section N to celebrate.
Hearts lost Peter Haring to a head injury as a plane flew over Gorgie carrying a banner reading: “Style and bottle – Davie Stewart legend.” It was in tribute to the popular Tynecastle fan who recently lost his life. Another blow for the hosts came with Cochrane’s dismissal before the half-hour mark.
The full-back fouled Chris Cadden and referee Don Robertson awarded a penalty before a VAR check advised the official to check his pitchside monitor. The decision was changed to a free-kick on the edge of Hearts’ penalty area, with Cochrane’s yellow card replaced by a red for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. Nisbet ruthlessly angled the free-kick low into the net to equalise.
The visitors would have gone 2-1 ahead soon after but for Zander Clark’s one-handed save to stop Paul Hanlon’s strike. Hibs sought to capitalise on their numerical advantage by introducing Harry McKirdy and Ewan Henderson for the second half. Jake Doyle-Hayes sustained an injury and was replaced by Josh Campbell, then came the unpleasant sight of Chris Cadden being stretchered off following an aerial challenge.
Elie Youan struck a shot on the turn which Clark held, and the goalkeeper then parried Paul Hanlon’s header from a corner. As the second half progressed, the concerted Hibs pressure mounted. They needed a goal to change their European fate and usurp their city neighbours in the Premiership table but were lacking the guile and craft to properly open up their hosts. Campbell’s shot and McKirdy’s header landed off target. Another header by Fish deflected onto the Hearts goalframe.
Tensions peaked on 83 minutes when the Hearts coach Gordon Forrest delayed returning the ball. Hibs manager Lee Johnson walked across into the home technical area and lightly barged him, prompting the Hearts substitute goalkeeper Ross Stewart to throw a rubber hot-water bottle down towards the touchline. It was fair to say emotions were boiling over somewhat.
In stoppage-time, Hibs substitute Marijan Cabraja went to retrieve the ball from a Hearts fan in the Wheatfield Stand and appeared to be struck several times for his trouble. Then came mayhem at the final whistle.
A confrontation between the managers appeared to start when Johnson threw an arm out at Naismith after shaking hands. That preceded a melee of pushing, shoving and aggression involving multiple players and staff from both clubs. Punches were thrown and people were knocked around on the touchline, fuelling the simmering anger.
Altercations continued in the middle of the field as too many people lost composure. Four red cards were issued at the end to Johnson, Bushiri, Stewart and Gallacher. When everything settled, Hearts enjoyed the fact they had held out with ten men to stay above their Edinburgh rivals.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Clark; Atkinson, Hill, Rowles, Cochrane; Devlin, Haring (Kiomourtzoglou 18); Oda (Forrest 76), Shankland, McKay (Sibbick 30); Ginnelly (Halliday 90).
Hibs (3-5-2): Marshall; Miller (McKirdy 46), Fish, Hanlon; Cadden (Delferriere 67), Doyle-Hayes (Campbell 51), Jeggo (Henderson 46 (Devlin 90)), Newell, Stevenson (Cabraja 56); Nisbet, Youan.
Referee: Don Robertson.