London Hearts Supporters Club

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John McGlynn (Caretaker) <-auth Jim Duffy auth-> John Underhill
Jankauskas Edgaras [G Buezelin 78] ;[G O'Connor 80]
33 of 099 ----- L SPL A

Mowbray is the jewel in the crown of team with no weak links


THIS was a hugely enjoyable derby match in a great Easter Road atmosphere - and a victory that was very much deserved for the home side.

Hearts, who lost their unbeaten SPL record, as well as Edgaras Jankauskas who managed to get himself sent off just after the hour in an act of folly he is probably still regretting, were never really in it and their fans can have no complaints about this.

Unusually for them on the form of this season, Hearts only managed sporadic attacks - their top scorer Skacel was unusually quiet - throughout the 90 minutes and in the second half in particular Hibs were totally dominant.

The Hearts midfield has been very strong this season, but they came off second best yesterday, thanks in the main to the largely unsung Kevin Thomson who overshadowed Paul Hartley on this occasion.

There were none of Hartley's trademarks runs forward yesterday and for once the Scotland man found himself coming off second best and he hasn't been used to that of late. Thomson played almost a holding role in midfield with two alongside him and he showed a lot of ability in breaking up attacks in the first half.

After the break, when Hibs really began to get on top, this excellent young player was able to express himself technically and show us some of his undoubted skills.

My man of the match vote yesterday, however, would have gone to the Dutchman Humphrey Rudge, who was immense at the heart of the home defence. Before the match I thought he might struggle against the Hearts attack, but I was pleasantly surprised for he rose to the occasion in style. As defensive operators go, Robbie Neilson has been in great form for Hearts, but as an all-rounder Rudge outshone him.

But there were no weak links in Hibs colours at Easter Road and a result like this can only have a positive effect for the rest of the season. They are suddenly looking like the side to watch out for in Edinburgh.

Hibs have a lot of prize assets right now, but their biggest plus of all, by the length of Leith Walk, has to be their manager.

Tony Mowbray to me is the best in Scotland at the moment even though he is still learning his trade in a lot of ways.

But he has produced a football team with no great financial resources and made them very special. When Jankauskas very stupidly got sent off it was still 0-0 and most managers or coaches would have sat back and thought "well, we might sneak a result here".

Tony, however, went straight on the offensive, throwing Ivan Sproule on up front, going to a 4-4-3 and really taking the game to Hearts.

Sure enough, within a few minutes Sproule with his pace got round the back and pulled it back for Breuzelin and Hibs were ahead.

That was the decision of a brave man and one who continues to impress me with everything he does on and off the field. Mowbray talks very well in public about the game and tactics and what he has achieved on a shoestring at Easter Road is astonishing.

The only concern for Hibs now will be to hang on to him because the big guns both south and north of the border will be after their manager now and that's for sure. Like I said, one of the best around right now.

A lot of folk will be wondering if this result was the result of a hangover from the George Burley affair, but I won't buy into that one.

Hearts won two difficult games on the bounce after Burley left Tynecastle and were still top of the table with a three-point lead. They must have been full of confidence going into this match as they had taken on and beaten all-comers including the Old Firm.

But Hibs were the team in control here and of that there is no doubt. They were sharper in just about every department than Hearts.

So chalk this one up to Mowbray and his Hibs team and let's not hear talk of the Hearts bubble bursting.

Finally, a word of praise (and don't fall off your seats at this one) for the referee John Underhill. He allowed play to flow and talked a lot with the players of both sides at crucial times and that is to his credit.

The Hearts fans will probably disagree with all this, but credit where it is due.

There was a highly-charged atmosphere in the ground and these affairs are notoriously difficult to control at times, but this official managed well.

Hearts supporters will point to the Jankauskas sending-off as the proverbial turning point but he was a silly boy and got his just desserts. IN games like this discipline is vital.

He had already been booked when he retaliated and it was needless and I don't think the Hearts management can have any complaints. I wouldn't.

Taken from the Scotsman

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