Supporters of Hibs shouldn’t have spent any more time trying to analyse their club’s difficulty in dealing with their local rivals.
Hearts’ run of 21 derby matches without defeat was one of those football quirks that defies logic; attempts to apply reason are doomed to failure.
Anyone could have guessed that John Robertson would score his 20th goal against Hibs, but no-one would have been so bold as to wager very much on Wayne Foster’s chances of hitting the winner.
Questioned soon after having struck his late goal – his first-ever goal against Hibs – he was unable to recall his last first-team goal; those possessing local knowledge suggested it was almost two seasons ago.
It all amounts to deeper misery for those who follow Hibs and who watched them come from a goal behind to take command of yesterday’s Scottish Cup fourth-round tie.
Despite the pressure, they did not create enough real scoring chances, while two were plenty for Hearts.
Robertson displayed his predatory cunning after only two minutes when he read Tosh McKinlay’s intentions as the full-back ran on to John Colquhoun’s deep cross from the right.
As McKinlay skipped around a leaden-footed Willie Miller before cutting the ball back, Robertson had already stolen half a yard and was waiting to prod the ball into the net from close range.
A sweetly-constructed goal, but further slick manoeuvres were scarce as the match descended into mediocrity and wild tackling. Six players, three from each side, were booked, but there could have been more.
There also could have been serious injuries, as most of the players displayed a flagrant disregard for the wellbeing of others. After he had lunged into Darren Jackson, the Hearts central defender Alan McLaren, being watched by several clubs, stopped to argue with the player he had fouled while Kevin McAllister sprinted into a depleted defence and shot against a post.
That incident took place just after Keith Wright had scored for Hibs three minutes from the break. He was allowed an astonishing amount of space in which to rise and meet Michael O’Neill’s cross.
It was Gary Mackay who finally got it right for Hearts when a long ball found Foster, who had replaced Robertson in 63 minutes. His speed carried him away from Dave Beaumont, and from just inside the penalty box the substitute clipped the ball under Jim Leighton and into the net.
Foster kept running all the way to the Hearts fans behind the goal, climbed the barrier, and celebrated in some style with his adoring public.
When he returned to the pitch he became the sixth player to be cautioned, but he wasn’t about to let that spoil his moment.
Just after Foster’s goal, fighting broke out between Hibs fans and police in the enclosure opposite the main stand.
Perhaps the police were getting revenge after one of their own was downed in the second half when Hibs’ huge defensive barrier, Steven Tweed, who couldn’t brake in time, bowled over a member of the constabulary.
The fighting provided a distasteful end to an ugly match.
Hibs: Leighton, Miller, Beaumont, Farrell, Tweed, Lennon, McAllister, Hamilton, Wright, Jackson, O’Neil.
Hearts: Smith, McLaren, McKinlay, Levein, Berry, Millar, Colquhoun, Mackay, Robertson, Johnston, Leitch.