Steven Whittaker: Even Hearts keeper thought it was going to be Hibs goal

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Steven Whittaker has revealed how even Hearts goalkeeper Colin Doyle could not believe how the Hibs midfielder’s shot hadn’t ended up in the back of his net as the Easter Road side lost the festive derby 1-0.

Whittaker was turning away in celebration after seeing Doyle get the slightest of touches on his effort, diverting the ball on to the inside of his right-hand post.

Hearts keeper Colin Doyle turns Steven Whittaker's shot on to the post. Pic: SNS

Hearts keeper Colin Doyle turns Steven Whittaker's shot on to the post. Pic: SNS

However, the ball spun across Doyle’s goal-line, managing to avoid the other post before going out of play for a corner kick, denying Whittaker his first-ever derby goal as Hearts claimed victory through Olly Lee’s first-half wonder strike.

Agreeing that nine times out of ten such a shot would go in, the 34-year-old said: “I struck it well enough. I hit it exactly where I wanted to hit it. I think the goalie might even have seen it late through the bodies, but he has done his job and got enough on it to keep it out.

“I was celebrating. When It came off the inside of the post I thought it had hit enough of it that it was going to go over the line.

“I was already spinning away to celebrate.”

Whittaker, who had earlier watched team-mate Oli Shaw’s shot clip the top of Doyle’s bar as Hibs piled on the pressure in a bid to find an equaliser, added: “He [Doyle] came up to me at the end and asked if I had hit that shot. I said ‘yeah’ and he said: ‘I don’t know how that didn’t go in’.

“I said: ‘That’s both of us.’ We were both on the same page that we thought it was going to cross the line, but it was not to be. It was one of those things.

“It wasn’t through lack of trying. We kept going at them and going at them, but they stood strong and the chances we had we couldn’t take.

“It is hard when they protect their lead and crowd the box, the spaces are not there that would be if the game was level. But it was up to us to break them down and create chances and show a bit of quality. We just could not do it.”

Whittaker claimed Hibs deserved at least a draw rather than suffering only their second league defeat at home in 2018, saying: “I feel we had enough pressure and possession. But did we create any clear-cut chances? Probably not.

“Like I said, when they sit so deep, crowd the box and try to hit us on the break, we just need something to fall for us. When it dropped in the box that little ricochet could have dropped to one of us, could we have been more alert maybe?

“The endeavour and fight was there to try to get back in the game but it was one of those days – it just did not fall for us.”