HEARTS and Hibs played out an entertaining draw in the New Year Edinburgh derby thanks to goals from Jason Cummings and Jamie Walker.
The visitors took the lead on 24 minutes through Cummings’ close-range finish before Walker’s raking equaliser five minutes before half-time.
Both clubs are likely to be content with a point after both enjoying periods of dominance in the match. Hibs controlled much of the first half and could have been further ahead before Hearts equalised. The hosts were stronger in the second period without creating much in the way of clear chances.
Hibs fielded the same team for the fourth consecutive match following last week’s 4-0 win over Rangers. New loan signing Martin Boyle from Dundee was amongst their substitutes after Alex Harris headed to Dens Park on loan. Hearts restored Miguel Pallardo and Walker to their starting line-up.
The match began amid an electric atmosphere and it was Alim Ozturk, Hearts’ hero in the last derby, who gifted Hibs a chance in the opening seconds. His slack pass under no pressure went straight to Jason Cummings, who stung the fingers of Neil Alexander from 20 yards.
The Hearts goalkeeper collected Liam Craig’s deflected free-kick after 11 minutes as the visitors enjoyed the better of the opening period. Hearts’ first attempt on goal was Danny Wilson’s 14th-minute header from Walker’s corner, which went wide. At the opposite end, passes continued to go astray inside the Hearts half.
Hibs moved in front on 24 minutes, a reward for their high-tempo opening to the game. Scott Allan delivered a swinging cross from the right and Cummings snuck in behind Ozturk on the six-yard line to convert his third goal in three games. He was then booked for celebrating in front of the Hearts support in the Gorgie Road stand.
Cummings might have doubled his and his team’s lead on the half-hour mark from Lewis Stevenson’s cross. Unmarked at the back post, he nodded wide when he should have hit the target. Walker was looking like Hearts biggest threat when they got forward but he shot into the side netting from the inside-left channel on 32 minutes.
Just as it looked like Hibs might reach the interval in front, Walker produced a fine solo goal to equalise. He collected Adam Eckersley’s pass and jinked clear of Allan to dispatch a vicious 22-yard drive high beyond the Hibs goalkeeper Mark Oxley and into the far corner of the net.
The second half began with Eckersley heading Sam Nicholson’s cross wide of Oxley’s goal. Hearts’ tempo had increased and play began flowing from end to end. Hibs fans howled for a penalty when Danny Handling fell under pressure from Pallardo as a cross ball arrived in the box. Then, in the opposite penalty area, Gomis and Allan collided going for a loose ball and the home support yelled for a spot-kick as their player hit the ground.
Callum Paterson headed Sam Nicholson’s corner into the roof of the net before Nicholson himself took to the air for Eckersley’s cross but was off target. The hosts were eager to fashion a potential winning goal but they still had to contend with a potent Hibs attack breaking forward.
Boyle entered the fray for his Hibs debut in the closing stages. The game remained open, as shots by Stevenson and substitute Callum Booth were blocked in front of the Hearts goal. At the other end, Buaben send a drive over Oxley’s crossbar from 18 yards. Hibs also felt Boyle deserved a penalty when challenging with Eckersley for a cross ball at the back post.
The final whistle sounded to cheers from both sets of fans, who left Tynecastle knowing their team had contributed to an decent derby encounter. The draw extends Hearts’ unbeaten run and they remain 19 points ahead of their Edinburgh rivals in the league. Hibs’ performance offered further evidence of their improvement under head coach Alan Stubbs.
Hearts (4-2-3-1): Alexander; Paterson, Ozturk, Wilson, Eckersley; Pallardo, Gomis; Walker, Buaben, Nicholson; Keatings.
73: King for Walker
89: Robinson for Buaben
90: Oliver for Keatings
Unused subs: Gallacher, Holt, McKay, McGhee.
Hibs (4-3-1-2): Oxley; Gray, Hanlon, Fontaine, Stevenson; Allan, Robertson, Craig; Handling; Malonga, Cummings.
46: Booth for Gray
67: McGeouch for Handling
84: Boyle for Cummings
Unused subs: Perntreau, Stanton, Heffernan, Kennedy.
Referee: Steven McLean.