Here are three Hearts-related observations from the 1-0 victory at Easter Road.
It says much about his attitude, ability and physical strength that, even allowing for the fact he was hindered by hernia trouble and only lasted 53 minutes, Peter Haring was still arguably the game’s outstanding player. The Austrian was at his imposing best in the first half, playing a key role in ensuring Hearts seized the initiative in a tightly-contested match. His team missed his combative and energetic presence as they dropped deeper in the closing stages. Hearts will hope to get his hernia problem addressed once and for all during the break, which will be a further boost for the second half of the season.
Jambo Solider soldiered on
Hearts’ ferocious battling spirit was summed up by the display of Clevid Dikamona, the self-proclaimed “Jambo Soldier”. Nobody expected to see the Congolese in the team after he was ruled out until after the winter break with a thigh problem, but he played when clearly not fully fit and did everything in his power to repel Hibs. He looked all set to be substituted a couple of times in the closing stages after crumpling in pain, but manfully played on to the end. Although he could barely walk in the closing moments, he was always willing to put his body on the line for the team.
A collective effort
Although two players have been singled out above, this victory was based on a collective team effort. In previous derbies at Easter Road over the past few years, Hearts players have had their desire called into question. There were certainly no issues with the attitude or commitment of any player in maroon on this occasion. This is a fixture where every 50/50 tackle, aerial duel or second ball has to he contested to the full, and that was the case from Hearts’ perspective. In addition to fighting their corner, they also played some decent football in the first half after winning the early battle. At a venue where few teams emerge victorious these days, every player stood up to be counted.