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Henry earns full marks by doing his homework


24 Aug 1992

THOSE of you who hanker for a little more sportsmanlike behaviour among our football teams would have been greatly encouraged by the magnanimous gesture of Hibs towards their city rivals before the Edinburgh derby which, predictably, ended in a no-scoring draw.

Perhaps unwittingly, and certainly unwillingly, the Easter Road team included in their programme a blueprint, clearly sketched, of where Brian Hamilton hit his scoring penalty kick against Raith Rovers.

This was accepted with gratitude by the Hearts keeper, Henry Smith, who studied the illustration carefully and then saved a penalty hit by Hamilton inside the first six minutes.

The Hearts keeper, who always reads match programmes, took full cognisance of the sketch, which was one of those showing how Hibs' goals are scored, but he very nearly proved too smart for himself.

Having decided that Hamilton would shoot for the space to his left, Smith broke the rules by moving first ("As all good goalkeepers do," he said).

Hamilton, perhaps unaware that his opponent had been given the low-down, realised that the keeper was going in the direction in which he had intended to aim the ball.

So he blasted the spot kick straight at the keeper who still managed to defy him by changing course miraculously and touching the ball over.

"I expected it to be Hamilton to take it if they got a penalty but in fact Darren Jackson wanted to take it," said Smith.

"Apart from the penalty I felt it was one of the busiest derby games I have experienced."

His spot-kick save was quite magnificent, recognised as such by Hibs' coach Martin Ferguson and even by Hearts' manager Joe Jordan, who retains that old centre forward's reluctance to praise keepers.

"That's what he is there for," he insisted, after having given due credit.

"It was an exceptional save.

What more can I say? The lad has set standards now and he must live up to them."

He repeated that truism when discussing further fine saves by the Scottish internationalist, particularly one late in the game from Mickey Weir.

Between that penalty save and the stop from Weir the game was very much a Hibs affair, with Hearts only occasionally giving any concern to the Easter Road defence.

It was maybe a surprise to the Tynecastle team, as it was to most of us in the press box, that Hibs used a line-up dedicated to attack, with Gareth Evans and Darren Jackson up front, backed by Weir and Keith Wright in an unusual midfield role.

Considering that they went into the match following two successive defeats and had not beaten Hearts since 1989, Hibs seemed likely to play it cautiously.

Instead, to their credit, they went for the victory and were genuinely unlucky not to get it.

They had far more chances, far more attacks, but were unable to come up with the bit that matters.

Hearts were disrupted by the loss of Gary Mackay before the interval and perhaps even more by the injury to Alan McLaren after the break.

Both are unlikely starters against Celtic in the Skol Cup-tie on Wednesday at Tynecastle.

But long before they departed Hibs had taken command and, in the first half particularly, ought to have been able to set up a big enough lead to win the match.

Even before the penalty Smith had made a tremendous save from a Jackson header, and after the penalty, awarded when Van de Ven tripped Evans, he had another superb interception from a low Miller cross on its way to Wright.

Jackson did have the ball in the net but was offside.

There was not as much goalmouth action in the second half, but Smith was at his best again when he touched over a fine Wright chip.

Hibs manager Alex Miller, assistant Murdo MacLeod, and chairman Douglas Cromb were unable to tell us their thoughts as they scampered off to a helicopter which took them to Edinburgh Airport where a private jet, provided, like the helicopter, by Edinburgh businessman Tom Farmer, whisked them to Brussels in time to see Anderlecht beat Mechelen


Hibs meet Anderlecht in the UEFA Cup next month.

Hearts manager Jordan was satisfied with the point but was not enamoured by the game, regarding it as more or less typical derby stuff.

He was more concerned about the next match, against Celtic, especially as the Tynecastle pool will be stretched without McLaren and Mackay.

Smith recalled the last time they played Celtic in the Skol Cup quarter-finals, when Hearts were beaten in a penalty decider.

If history repeats itself Celtic should be aware that this is one keeper who does his homework.

Taken from the Herald

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