Facing adversity, Hearts put on a battling display against Hibs in a dramatic and ultimately ugly Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle Park.
Florian Kamberi was dismissed in the second half for the visitors and the Hearts goalkeeper Zdenek Zlamal and Hibs manager Neil Lennon were both struck and grounded in two separate incidents involving fans.
It was an unpleasant atmosphere come full-time inside the Gorgie ground, with football unlikely to be remembered before the chaos. Hearts did have the ball in the net through defender Clevid Dikamona in the dying seconds but the effort was disallowed for offside.
That saw Lennon turn to the main stand and tell the home support to “sit down”. Seconds later he was on the turf having apparently been struck by a coin thrown from the crowd. He had been angered by Kamberi’s red card for a second booking and has history at Tynecastle having been attacked there in 2011 whilst managing Celtic.
Zlamal also appeared to be struck by a Hibs fan as he tried to collect a ball from the away support earlier in the second half. The Czech keeper was left lying on the ground. The incidents were condemned by all concerned after the game as the Edinburgh derby took centre stage for events other than football.
In amongst all of the madness and unseemly sights, there was actually 90 minutes of Ladbrokes Premiership football played. Hibs had the better of the first half and were unlucky not to be ahead at the break, while Hearts were stronger after the interval. Unfortunately, that will likely pale into insignificance in the fallout from this encounter.
Steven MacLean added his name to Hearts’ absentee list after his club accepted a charge of violent conduct from the Scottish Football Association. Also missing were Steven Naismith, Uche Ikpeazu, Christophe Berra and John Souttar through injury, resulting in the unusual sight of Peter Haring standing in as captain and starting up front alongside the reinstated Callumn Morrison.
Hibs named an attacking line-up with Kamberi, Stephen Mallan and Martin Boyle all a major threat. They started the game without a win at Tynecastle in five years and were under pressure from the first minute. Olly Lee had the first goal attempt from 20 yards but Adam Bogdan took to the air to push the ball for a corner. Then came Dikamona’s overhead attempt from Lee’s corner which was too high.
Hibs settled around the 15-minute mark and created numerous scoring opportunities. The first was wasted when, from Mallan’s corner, Darren McGregor found himself free at the back post but headed into the side-netting. Manager Neil Lennon was apoplectic with frustration in the visitors’ technical area.
Moments later, Mallan struck the crossbar with an audacious 25-yard shot and then came close with a free-kick from similar distance. Another Mallan set-piece from an angle on the Hibs left forced Zlamal to scramble a save low to his right.
The final moments of the half saw the initiative return to the home side but there was no question the better chances in the opening 45 minutes belonged to the Easter Road team. The makeshift Hearts forward line was being well marshalled by Hibs’ back three of Efe Ambrose, McGregor and Mark Milligan.
Quality passing wasn’t high on the agenda from two teams clearly desperate not to make a mistake which might hand the other the breakthrough. Hearts began the second half with more cohesion in their play, especially between midfield and attack.
The game was gradually coming to the boil as tackle after tackle flew in. A flashpoint arose on the hour when Michael Smith and Boyle clashed chasing a ball down the touchline. A shoving match ensued, ending with both players booked. Then came a bigger melee just minutes later.
Kamberi challenged Oliver Bozanic in midfield which prompted an angry reaction from both sets of players. Referee Andrew Dallas struggled to restore order as Kamberi and Hearts’ Ben Garuccio were both physically restrained by team-mates. Eventually, Garuccio was booked and Kamberi dismissed for a second caution.
The Hibs management team pointed angrily at Garuccio insinuating he helped get Kamberi sent off. The game restarted but it didn’t take long for another moment of controversy to arrive. Zlamal went to retrieve the ball from the Hibs fans behind his goal at the Roseburn End and finished on the ground after appearing to be struck by a supporter.
With ten minutes remaining Hearts were seeking to capitalise on their extra-man advantage. They were being made to work for an opening by a stubborn and well-organised Hibs rearguard. The introductions of Craig Wighton, Demetri Mitchell and Danny Amankwaa offered fresh energy for a predictably tense final stages with the scoreline still blank.
On 89 minutes, the winning chance seemed to be there for the taking. Bogdan came to collect Lee’s corner but failed and the ball landed with Dikamona. He twisted for a left-footed effort which struck the goalframe. Then Dikamona looked to have won the game in stoppage-time with a backward header which landed in the net, but it was disallowed with Haring offside .
Lennon celebrated the decision and had a coin thrown at him. He was then seen grounded inside his technical area complaining about being hit around the mouth area. Craig Levein, the Hearts manager, gestured for calm as medics and colleagues surrounded Lennon. He was eventually brought back to his feet but it was a horrible way for the evening to end. Both teams took a point from a game which will be remembered for all the wrong reasons.