London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2004-05--> All for 20050423
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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
John Robertson <-auth Tom English auth-> Mike McCurry
[G O'Connor 8] ;[D Riordan 63]
6 of 020 Lee Miller 23 ;Andy Webster 88 L SPL A

Hibs caught in a web


HIBERNIAN 2 O’Connor 8, Riordan 63
HEARTS 2 Miller 23, Webster 88

ANOTHER quiet day at Easter Road then. Just the four goals from about a dozen chances, a contentious penalty decision, plenty of pushing and shoving and evil eyes on display and unconfirmed tales of bad blood in the tunnel. What’s more, we had a thumping goal from the excellent Derek Riordan which looked to all the world as if it would hand Hibs the victory until two minutes from normal time when Andy Webster, on his 23rd birthday, strolled up from the back and got his head on the end of a Paul Hartley free-kick to level it. Apart from that lot, the Edinburgh derby was a damp squib.

"It was a fantastic game of football. Both teams went hell for leather," said John Robertson, the Hearts manager, and he was absolutely right on both counts, but God forbid this most dour of individuals break into a smile at his team’s commendable draw. He was his usual morbid self after Webster had rescued a point which, to be fair, was probably understandable in the circumstances. "It was a far better point for Hibs than it was for us," he said, in reference to Hearts’ now near-extinct prospects of European football next season. "It’s still mathematically possible but being realistic we needed to win today."

So nothing to smile about there and nothing to smile about in terms of his own future either. Was there any news on his job security? "No," he replied. Had he requested a meeting with the Hearts board? "No," again, this time with an exasperated tone. With that he was off, carrying the weight of the world on those hunched shoulders of his.

To be truthful, his counterpart, Tony Mowbray, was hardly sweetness and light himself. "The players are very disappointed sat in the dressing room," he said. "Losing the goal so late, everybody’s deflated. In the second half, particularly, we did enough to win the game." The combination of Webster’s goal and Aberdeen’s victory at Motherwell has cut in half Hibs’ four-point advantage over the improving Dons in the chase for third and how the Hearts supporters reminded them of it at the end. With little left to play for themselves, they goaded the home fans with chants of "Aberdeen, Aberdeen" when their win at Fir Park was confirmed over the PA system. Slightly sad but hardly unexpected behaviour.

Hibs took the lead as early as the eighth minute when Riordan’s cross was only half-cleared to Scott Brown on the right of the penalty area. Brown promptly fired the ball back in to the area where Gary O’Connor was left alone to tap home.

Hearts recovered splendidly from their early setback, Hartley becoming a dominant force in the centre of midfield. Not only did they draw level 15 minutes after O’Connor’s goal but they could actually have built a decent lead for themselves with a little luck.

Before Lee Miller scored his 11th goal in 19 appearances since beginning his loan-spell from Bristol City, Burchill saw his header slap off Simon Brown’s post. Bad luck, no question, but it gave us a clear sign of the gathering menace in the Hearts ranks. Two minutes later it was confirmed when Hartley and Burchill combined to present Miller with the opportunity which he rifled high into Craig Gordon’s net.

There could have been more from Webster and Miller before Riordan interrupted Hearts’ flow by lashing a shot just over but yet another opportunity, of sorts, came Hearts’ way a minute after that. You can tell by now that it was a game where both defences spent their time in a perpetual state of confusion best exemplified by Gary Caldwell’s indecision in dealing with a Hartley dink over the top close to the half-hour mark. With a Hearts raider breathing down his neck he declined to hoof it away and instead waited for his keeper to come, which he seemed reluctant enough to do. They got away it, but only just.

Hearts were playing a dangerous game. It took Hibs a while but eventually they made their bitter rivals pay. Leading up to Riordan’s goal, Hibs came agonisingly close to taking the lead when, two minutes before half-time, Caldwell saw his effort cleared off the line by Joe Hamill.

Miller later got himself booked and was back in the wars towards the end when Gary Smith accused him of elbowing him in the face.

Hibs began the second half in the same confident manner they started the first, and twice in the opening ten minutes Amadou Konte made his considerable presence felt. First, he had a shot turned round the post then he beat Gordon but the "goal" was ruled offside.

The increasingly influential Riordan then found Shiels at the back post only for the Northern Irishman to put his effort wide. In the 63rd minute, though, Riordan showed us what finishing is all about. Smith volleyed out of defence to Riordan on the left. Backing off him, Neilson gave the striker all the encouragement he needed to try his luck - and Riordan belted the ball across Gordon and high into the net.

It was a goal worthy of a derby win but given the nature of the contest it was no banker. Sure enough, two minutes from normal time Hearts scored again when Hartley drove a free kick head-high into the Hibs box and on to it ran the untracked Webster, nodding it low past the bemused Brown.

Taken from the Scotsman

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