London Hearts Supporters Club

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Csaba Laszlo <-auth Neil Cameron auth-> Charlie Richmond
Balogh Janos [S Fletcher 14] Soulemayne Bamba
10 of 021 ----- L SPL A

Hibernian 1 Hearts 0

Mar 16 2009 Neil Cameron reports

SUPPORTERS used to travel by tram in their thousands to watch the game in what we are told was a golden age of football.

Soon Edinburgh folk will be able to to use that same mode of transport and, if they happen to be going to a derby match, will be guaranteed an occasion that will allow them to bore the grandkids, telling them how the game was so much better in their day.

It's unclear when the much-talked tram system will actually be up and running but one thing followers of Hibs and Hearts know for certain is whenever these two meet, you are going to get 90 minutes of blood, thunder, commitment, excitement and talking points.

Just like the good old days.

The SPL has perhaps been less than inspiring for much of this season but Saturday was a reminder to all cynics why football is quite simply brilliant.

You just could not take your eyes of yet another wonderfully intriguing derby in the capital. They just don't do boring. These games are always good.

But the funny thing is there were actually so many reasons why this match should not have worked.

Take the goal, for instance - a bit of a fluke as the ball came off Steven Fletcher's shoulder instead of the intended header which was the reason it looped over Hearts keeper Janos Balogh.

Then there were the misplaced passes. Lots of them as well. Two red cards, which did have an effect on the game, tackles were missed as were opportunities that should have given us more goals.

The woodwork was rattled three times, there were some great saves, bad misses and everything in between.

Of course, the purists wouldn't have been impressed. The rest of us walked away from Easter Road after this win for Hibs knowing we'd been thoroughly entertained.

And it was all played out in a fantastic atmosphere. If you are a Jambo then naturally you care little for entertainment or how enjoyable it was for us few neutrals in the stadium.

But take it from me. This was Scottish football at its best in that something was happening all of the time.

Let's start with the red cards. Referee Charlie Richmond got one decision absolutely right and the other probably correct as well.

The clock had almost struck 45 minutes when a fantastic pass by Colin Nish allowed Fletcher, who timed his run perfectly, a clean charge at goal.

The ball was just far enough ahead of the Hibs striker to make Balogh think he could get there first. He was wrong.

Fletcher touched the ball past the keeper, who made sure his man wasn't going to get beyond him.There may still have been 40 yards until goal but there wasn't a Hearts man in sight.Balogh had to go.

Hearts defended the free-kick and counter-attacked through Michael Stewart who slotted a pass behind right-back Sol Bamba for Christian Nade to chase. He got the wrong side of his opponent who promptly took him out.

Now there were two questions here. Would Richmond have gone for his red if he hadn't justshown another one? Perhaps not. And was Nade denied a goalscoring opportunity?

That was more debatable.

So both sides were down to 10 men at the break but Hibs were a goal to the good.

That came after 13 minutes when best man on the park Denes Rosa picked out AlanO'Brien on the right with a ball that travelled 45 yards.

The winger switched on to his left, sent an inviting cross into the box which was missed by Eggert Jonsson, although he probably put off Fletcher who was going with his head but lost the flight and his shoulder luckily sent the ball looping over Balogh.

It was well deserved. Just four minutes before the goal, Derek Riordan got the ball outleft, ignored the easy pass to Lewis Stevenson and feigned inside, looked up and sentafantastic shot from 30 yards crashing against a post. It could have been a classic.

Hearts should have equalised in 19 minutes.

Bamba didn't have a good day and after a great tackle on Andrew Driver, he dallied and his daft passback went right to Nade who hesitated instead of going for a firsttime shot. Grzegorz Szamotulski had an easier save than he should have had.

After the two red cards, in the seventh minute of first-half injury time Stewart had afree-kick slightly to the left and 30 yards from goal. His beautifully struck shot was heading to the top corner until Szamotulski's fingertip sent it on to the bar.

Stewart sent in a few great free-kicks that Hibs'Polish keeper punched clear and there was hardly a five-minute period that passed when something didn't happen.

Hibs should have killed it in 71 minutes.

Riordan seemed to be stuck on the touchline when his clever pass over two Hearts players released Fletcher but his left-foot shot was turned wide by sub keeper Jamie McDonald.

The finale was all Hearts as Hibs sat too deep and didn't take a touch when a big hoof was the first thing on their minds.

With six minutes left, Szamotulski came for a cross only for his captain, Rob Jones, to head it out of his hands.

The ball fell to Nade whose header looked for a second as if it would drop in, only for it to hit the bar.

Then in the last few seconds, Saulius Mikoliunas' cross was just an inch too far away from Jonsson to connect with 10 yards from goal.

We all took a deep breath, then went off to buy flat caps. After all, it was footie from a bygone age.

Denes Rosa (Hibs)

Riordan may not have scored with his shot from 30 yards but it was a spectacular effort.

Taken from the Daily Record

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