Hearts & Hibs remain unbeaten after derby stalemate
Hearts and Hibs played out a goalless draw at Tynecastle in the first Edinburgh derby of the season. Jamie McIntosh reports.
Hearts and Hibs both entered this game knowing a victory would see them top the cinch Premiership table after week five.
Hearts had a number of derby debutants in their ranks, meanwhile Hibs were without Jamie Murphy and Jake Doyle-Hayes, however Martin Boyle was eligible and, as you’d expect, was at the heart of everything Hibs would go on to create.
It was the usual frantic start to an Edinburgh derby and Hibs had settled the better of the two teams with Kevin Nisbet having the game’s first half chance, but the striker was unable to get the right connection on Chris Cadden’s cross.
Prior to the match Robbie Neilson spoke about the importance of his side being ‘first to everything’, but it was the visitors who were using the ball more accurately in the opening 15 minutes.
Ben Woodburn was the first to try his luck for Hearts. After linking up with Gary Mackay-Steven, the Welshman fired over, before up the other end the returning Joe Newell saw his dangerous cross come back off the crossbar.
By the time the game was 25 minutes young, Hearts were finding their groove and spraying the ball around nicely. Liam Boyce and Craig Halkett went close with headers either side of Gary Mackay-Steven’s long-range effort which tested Matt Macey.
After Boyle was injured when on international duty, many Hibs fans were understandably worried they might have been without him at Tynecastle. The Aussie did start and called Craig Gordon into action ten minutes before the break when trying his luck from distance, but Scotland’s number one palmed it away.
Both teams had contributed to an entertaining, albeit goalless, first half and Boyle almost gave Hibs the lead with the last kick of the half, when skipping away from Beni Baningime and firing just wide of the far post after brushing the fingertips of Gordon.
Hibs made a change at half time with Alex Gogic replacing James Scott and the first real chance of the second half fell to the visitors on the hour mark. John Souttar’s under hit pass was intercepted by Kyle Magennis, whose effort at Gordon was tame.
Hearts went right up the other end and fashioned two chances of their own, the first of which was probably the best of the game.
Mackay-Steven found himself in on Macey’s goal but was denied by the big stopper, who was again called into action by the winger this time from distance, but again was up to the task.
That was Mackay-Steven’s last action as he was replaced by Josh Ginnelly and Taylor Moore was also introduced for a Tynecastle debut, in place of Michael Smith with 25 minutes remaining.
Barrie McKay was also thrown on for a Hearts debut five minutes later and his cross for Ginnelly almost led to the opening goal, but again Macey was alert at his near post.
Half time substitute Gogic would’ve been an unlikely first goalscorer and the Cypriot wasn’t a million miles away when trying his luck from distance, but his effort just veered wide.
The visitors had an even better chance seconds later, as Nisbet’s cut-back to Magennis produced a magnificent fingertip save from Gordon, before a speculative volley from Nisbet went just wide, as the game entered the final ten minutes.
Macey had been called into action a few times and again produced a brilliant save, this time from his own player. Alex Cochrane’s cross from the left was flicked towards his own goal by Paul Hanlon, with Macey showing great reflexes to tip the ball over with just two minutes remaining.
Up the other end Gordon was alert to deny both Nisbet and Magennis as each side went in search of a late derby winner, but it wasn’t forthcoming, and it finished goalless.
The game could’ve gone either way, but in the end both managers will have to settle for the fair result – a draw.