Why Uche Ikpeazu’s derby goal bucks a season-long trend for Hearts
Hearts fans either in attendance or watching on TV could have been forgiven for thinking Sunday’s match with Hibs was over as soon as Christophe Berra - otherwise excellent in the Edinburgh derby - inadvertently deflected the ball beyond his own goalkeeper in the 68th minute.
Hibs were at home, they were in much better form and Hearts appeared spent as an attacking force after a bright opening 25 minutes. Furthermore, there wasn’t much evidence across the 2018/19 season to suggest the away side were capable of hauling themselves level.
Going into the match, Hearts had only secured three points from losing positions all season, all of which came in one match - a 2-1 win over Aberdeen at Tynecastle a month ago.
They were able to buck that trend and add a fourth point to that tally when Uche Ikpeazu struck in the 83rd minute. They even went close to a winner three minutes later when his overhead kick attempt had to be pushed over the bar by Ofir Marciano.
Two goals in the last 15 minutes of a match would have been quite something for this team, seeing as Hearts have only netted four times beyond the 76th minute in the Ladbrokes Premiership all campaign, three of which came in the last month and all of them in 2019.
Four goals from 76-90+ minutes is the lowest mark of any team in the Premiership this campaign. By comparison, Hibs have netted ten times in that time period, while even a dreadful Dundee team have five. Not surprisingly, Hearts also have the lowest percentage of their total goals scored in the second half at 40 per cent.
On the positive, they rarely throw away a half-time lead. In 12 league matches this season where Craig Levein’s men have led at the break, they’ve emerged victorious in 11 of them, drawing the other.
Fans have complained about predictability this season. When they do so they’re referring to style, but these figures probably play a subconscious part also. Obviously, football teams tend to win when they lead and lose when they go behind, but Hearts have taken it to extreme levels this season.
Levein has talked about bringing in more creative players over the summer and this should help if they’re able to find the right talent. Other teams, if defending a lead or a draw, will sit back against Hearts and dare the Tynecastle side to play their way through, which they’ve struggled in doing so. Getting midfielders or strikers who could help pick that lock would go a long way in improving their fortunes on the park.
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