Substitute Mackay hits saver but gives the praise to his keeper Rousset proves a class apart as a Heart stopper
By KEN GALLACHER
18 Mar 1996
HEARTS' longest-serving player, Gary Mackay, scored the goal which gave Hearts this draw in the Edinburgh derby - but then heaped all the praise on to French goalkeeper Gilles Rousset.
Mackay had appeared as a substitute 15 minutes from the end of the game, with the Tynecastle team a goal behind their city rivals.
He equalised six minutes from the end, but after the game he concentrated on the efforts of his giant team-mate.
"People keep talking down south about Ginola and Cantona not being in the French national side," he said, "but, honestly, they must have some goalkeeper if Rousset cannot get a mention.
"He is outstanding.
I would compare him with Andy Goram, and when you do that, then you are comparing him with perfection.
"I voted for Andy twice for the Players' Player of the Year award when he was at Hibs because he was just so good.
And he has gone on to be just as influential with Rangers.
But our lad is close to him.
"He kept us in the game after we went behind.
My goal would not have mattered at all if Gilles had not had a couple of good saves after they had scored." The 31-year-old Mackay is not normally quoted as a goal getter.
In 482 appearances for the club, he has managed just 62 strikes, and after this important goal, he joked: "I have a bet with Stephen Frail about who would score more goals this season between us.
"He was still on crutches then and knew he would not be back in action until March or April - I think he managed 20 minutes in the reserves today - but he took the bet which shows what he thinks of me as a goal-scorer.
"But it counted and it gave us a draw we deserved.
However, I am still disappointed at not being in the starting line-up, though I suppose that is why first-team squads are so important nowadays." This was Mackay's first goal of the season, and he was the last of Hearts' outfield players to find the net this season and he almost managed to spark a Tynecastle victory.
There were signs after he scored that Hibs were vulnerable - and signs beforehand, too.
Tynecastle manager Jim Jefferies felt the revival began with a Rousset save from Hibs' substitute Michael O'Neill on the hour mark.
"After that save by Gilles, we dominated the game," he declared.
"That was the turning point for us.
I thought we might even win it the way we played following that stop.
"We could have done it in the first half, but then they scored and had a bit of the play.
But by the end, we were the one team who looked as if they could win the game.
They played with only one man up right through the match.
"For the last half hour of the game, we were in control." Jefferies, in common with his players, was unhappy about the last minute decision from referee Les Mottram which denied them a penalty when Graham Mitchell appeared to handle in the box.
It certainly looked as if the defender gained an advantage from the incident, but the referee waved play on and Alan lawrence found himself cautioned after stating a forcible case to the stand side linesman, who had had a clear view of the whole affair.
For Hibs manager Alex Miller it was a day when he could celebrate the arrival of new man Andy Dow, who scored the Easter Road team's goal.
The former Dundee player cost Miller just £125,000 from Chelsea, and afterwards the manager revealed: "He could have stayed down there in London.
Glenn Hoddle said that he would have been able to make it in England, but he could not get a regular game.
We had watched him several times, and we went in and bought him.
"I think it was Graham Rix who was responsible for taking him south.
He really rated him, but now he is back, and he will be an important acquisition for us.
He is just 23 years old and he can pass the ball well and keep possession.
His goal was a bonus." What Miller had wanted, however, was a similar bonus from his second-half substitute O'Neill.
He missed his opportunity - or, rather, Rousset prevented him getting a second which might have handed Hibs victory.
"That would have killed the game," said Miller shaking his head.
"They would not have come back from that.
We missed Keith Wright when he had to go off injured.
He was important for us in this game." The striker, who has a hamstring injury, had caused Hearts problems playing in behind Gareth Evans.
However, the match left the Edinburgh rivals even over the season - one win each and two draws from their premier division campaign.
It also left Hearts still in front in the chase for a European place - and the Tynecastle men still have a possibility of Continental competition through the Scottish Cup.
A nice position for Jim Jefferies to be in when he appeared to be facing another relegation struggle around the turn of the year.
Taken from the Herald