Hibs post-match: Jack Ross' big calls are vindicated as Hibees make it a Tynecastle double
Manager's decisions to move winger up front and reinstate defender pay off
All the noise came from the Roseburn End. 2,996 Hibs fans were crammed into Tynecastle and they savoured every moment of their second derby win of 2019 at Tynecastle,
Martin Boyle netting twice to claim a straightforward derby win on maroon soil.
“Hearts are going down,” they chanted as the home support streamed out of the ground and the Hibs players danced jubilantly in front of them at full-time. It was a fine day for Hibs: a big win over their rivals, who they are now clear of by 13 points. They also moved up to fifth place in the Ladbrokes Premiership, a vast improvement on where they were when new head coach Jack Ross took over last month.
Ross made two bold moves in his first derby. Already without the suspended Ryan Porteous – who was replaced by the stupendous Darren McGregor – Ross was forced into another change from the side which had been beaten by Rangers. Swiss striker Florian Kamberi picked up a knee injury in that game and has returned home for treatment.
As a result, Ross partnered the fleet-footed Boyle alongside the height and power of Christian Doidge up front and it was an inspired move.
There was nothing subtle as Scott Allan “hoiked” a high hanging ball into Hearts penalty area on six minutes, but Christophe Berra opted not to attack it, leaving it to drop for Boyle. The Australian showed fine composure as he directed it past Joel Pereira with a well taken first-time shot.
A second goal followed on 31 minutes. Allan was again involved, the Easter Road playmaker sticking in a toe to knock the ball away from Loic Damour’s feet to set Boyle racing free, and with his lightning speed there was no catching him, the 26-year-old simply steadied himself before slotting a low shot beyond Pereira.
Ross said: “‘You assess what you are going to be up against. Today we wanted that threat in behind from Martin.
“If you look at the number of times he got caught offside, I didn’t mind it – because I wanted him on the shoulder, playing in behind. Its’ different to what we’ve done in recent weeks. But you saw the threat he carries with the two goals. Wherever he plays, he’s a threat.”
Ryotaro Meshino almost reduced the deficit for Hearts, the Japanese cutting in from the left to unleash a shot which Ofir Marciano soared high to claw away with his right hand.
Other than that, Hearts had been decidedly poor, surrendering possession too readily and although they did see their fair share of the ball, they carried little or no threat, Hibs content to be patient and look to hit on the break at pace.
Boyle was constantly playing on the last shoulder, giving his team-mates the option to go long, keeping the Hearts back-line on their toes as Daniel Stendel’s men set about trying to get that goal which would haul them back into the game.
The introduction of Ollie Bozanic and Euan Henderson at half-time had injected a bit more life into the home side without Marciano being over-troubled, although the Israeli internationalist had to look sharp as he got down to get his left hand on Meshino’s low shot.
Ross, however, would have been getting a little anxious as to the amount of territory Hearts were enjoying, Meshino and Uche Ikpeazu both firing wide before Marciano pulled off a superb double stop from Henderson, using his left boot to block his first shot and then rising acrobatically to bat away his second effort from the rebound.
With Darren McGregor, who enjoyed an arm-wrestle with Uche Ikpeazu – including a couple of penalty shouts – rolling back the years as he and Paul Hanlon stood up to everything that came their way in central defence, Hibs held Hearts at bay for their second win in a year at Tynecastle.
Ross admitted he’d had two big decisions before the match, where to play Boyle and whether or not to pitch McGregor into his first start in four months on such an occasion.
But he was delighted both calls came off, saying: “Picking Darren was another big decision for us. The two decisions were where to play Martin and whether we could bring Darren back in, with him having not played since the first game of the season.
“Our schedule meant it’s been very difficult to get even a bounce game or friendly arranged. But I think he thrives on these occasions. And, looking at what we would face and the threat posed by the opposition, we thought he would be right for it – and he didn’t disappoint.”
‘From minute one, he was really, really good. It means a lot to him, naturally. But he enjoyed every minute of that.”
Now the attention turns to Sunday’s match against Livingston and Ross wants to keep up the momentum.
Ross added: “We have an opportunity, if we win Sunday, to finish the calendar year in a healthy position. We still need to aspire to be higher than that. But, from where we were not so long ago, it would be a good end to the year for us.”