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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Michael Grant auth-> Calum Murray
15 of 023 ----- L SPL H

Killer instinct missing in Derby Fury

Michael Grant at Tynecastle

THE EDINBURGH derby could not have been more tumultuous if it had been played inside a tumble-dryer. Nothing separated Hearts and Hibs in a furious 90 minutes. The respite will be brief before hostilities resume when the sides meet again in the Scottish Cup at Easter Road next Sunday. Perhaps there will be goals then, but the tie will struggle to match the energy of this unrelenting battle.

To take one example, the result meant so much to Christos Karipidis that he took a kick to the ankle in the first minute which should have ended his involvement there and then. He was in such pain after the game he came into the media room on crutches, yet he had played for the entire match. And there were plenty of others on both sides who equalled his will to win.

"I didn't want to miss this match, so I played for 90 minutes," said Karipidis, admitting that in a lesser tie he would have come off.

Hearts made the most chances, came closest to scoring, and did most of the pressing while always looking vulnerable to Hibs' pace on the counter attack. Endless tackling and interceptions took the place of attractive football, and the result could have gone either way.

Hearts manager, Csaba Laszlo, went with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Christian Nade as the out-and-out forward. He had one great chance to win it and blew it. "If you don't have the killer instinct you can create 20 million chances but, if you don't score any, there is always the chance that you can go behind," said the manager.

"It's not a big secret that we need someone to score. I have given the board my plans and I hope they take action."

There was no prospect of it being peaceful in Gorgie. The centre pages of the match programme showed a cartoon of Hibs chairman Rod Petrie making a phone call to the released Death Row Scot Kenny Ritchie to offer him the manager's job at Easter Road. If that was in questionable taste there could be no debate when a few Hibs fans jeered at the start of a minute's silence for George Miller, the late Hearts captain of the 1960s.

Jonatan Johansson used to be fast. He is probably still quicker than most for his age - 33 now - but this match simply flashed around the former Rangers forward on his Hibs debut. He could be forgiven for looking bewildered, it was a game without focus beyond a relentless, throbbing tempo. Creative players - Alan O'Brien, Lewis Stevenson, Derek Riordan, Ruben Palazuelos, Michael Stewart, Andy Driver - struggled to make their presence felt.

When anyone got the ball they reacted as though it was a package of depleted uranium and moved it on instantly. This happened from 12.30pm to 2.20pm and inevitably the unforgiving pace led to the ball being given away all the time. Even by the standards of the capital derby, it was breathless. If either side managed half-a-dozen clean passes in the course of the tie, then few would have noticed it in the maelstrom.

Yves Ma-Kalambay is among the Hibs goalkeepers who has been a figure of fun for Hearts, notably for gifting Andrius Velicka a goal last season, but he was a credit to his club this time. First he saved a Driver shot and then an angled effort from Laryea Kingston. Near the end, he parried a rising drive by Christophe Berra.

Manager, Mixu Paatelainen, described him as a "fantastic" goalkeeper but admitted his decision to sign Polish stopper Grzegorz Szamotulski on Friday was a bid to give him a rival. "That's why I wanted to bring a third top goalkeeper here Andy McNeil is also in the squad. They are training and playing together, fighting for that starting place."

Ma-Kalamabay said he would welcome Szamotulski but "I will do everything to keep my jersey". He could have done no more here.

Hearts hit the woodwork three times. Nade flicked a header on to the face of the crossbar in the first half and smacked the foot of a post with a low shot in the second. Gary Glen, on early after Jason Thomson suffered a head knock, whacked the top of the bar with a shot from 25 yards.

A tidy Hibs move g ave Steven Fletcher time and space but he snatched a shot over the bar. When Stevenson put Riordan through on goal he preparing to shoot - and quite probably to score - when Eggert Jonsson dispossessed him with a wonderful tackle. Otherwise, the tackling was relentless and referee Calum Murray did well to keep the card count down.

Two of the best chances came in the final 15 minutes. Robbie Neilson's cross found Nade unmarked at the back post but his finish was woeful. Fletcher wormed his way through at the other end but was hesitant in unleashing a shot and saw his effort blocked by Janos Balogh. By then the whole stadium was on edge: conceding at the end of such an epic contest would have made victory sweeter and defeat distressing.

All that either side lacked was a coup de grace. That will have to come in the cup.

Taken from the Sunday Herald

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