Edinburgh derby ends in stalemate
Hearts 0 Hibernian 0:Honours were even as Hearts and Hibernian played out a goalless draw in the Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle tonight.
The third capital clash of season was scrappy and Hearts’ Ryan Stevenson and substitute Jason Holt were left to rue missed second-half opportunities, while John Sutton hit the bar with a header in stoppage time.
After drawing two and winning one of the capital clashes this term, Pat Fenlon’s Hibs consolidated their fourth-placed position ahead of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League winter break, while Hearts remained ninth, six points behind their rivals with a game in-hand.
Since Hearts won May’s Scottish Cup final 5-1, earning the ultimate bragging rights, Hibs have drawn two league encounters and claimed a semblance of revenge in the cup by dumping out the holders in a fourth-round clash at Easter Road in December.
The pre-match suggestion was that the tide is turning in Edinburgh, but there appears to be a way to go yet as a dogged Hearts were thwarted by a resilient Hibs, whose best chance saw Eoin Doyle blast over.
Hearts had the better opportunities, but Sutton cut an isolated figure up front. So too did Hibs’ Leigh Griffiths, who scored the winner against Celtic last Saturday.
Hearts’ off-field turmoil could lead to numerous departures this month and Ryan McGowan was absent after a €500,000 bid was accepted from China’s Shandong Luneng.
Andy Webster was reported to be ill, although the Scotland international could also be in demand, forcing a reshuffle for Hearts, with Dylan McGowan, Scott Robinson and Arvydas Novikovas coming in and Darren Barr shifted to right back.
Hibs were, in contrast, at full strength, with Ryan McGivern restored at left back, and were happy to allow Hearts midfield possession in a messy contest punctuated by fouls.
It took 24 minutes for the first shot on goal as Doyle’s centre was diverted tamely goal-wards by Paul Cairney and saved by Jamie MacDonald.
Robinson dragged a long-range effort wide as he tried to combine with Sutton before Hearts should have gone in front after 32 minutes.
Robinson latched on to a long ball forward from Darren Barr, James McPake leapt to intercept it and the midfielder went down heavily. Amid muted penalty appeals, the ball broke for Andrew Driver, who shot across goal and wide.
Hearts finished the half on top, but were fortunate not to be reduced to 10 men as Stevenson escaped punishment for a two-footed tackle on McPake.
Stevenson should have put Hearts ahead soon after the restart after Mehdi Taouil’s shot was spilled by Ben Williams.
First defender Dylan McGowan fluffed his shot from six yards and then Stevenson mis-kicked an even easier effort wide.
Hibs spurned an opportunity to go in front following a Cairney cross-field pass to former Sligo Rovers striker Doyle, who blasted over.
The scrappy exchanges continued, with Hibs defender Paul Hanlon becoming the first player booked after catching Novikovas late.
Hibs’ rearguard of McPake, McGivern, Hanlon and Tim Clancy dealt with everything Hearts threw at them as the hosts looked for an opening.
McGivern was booked for felling Driver before substitute David Wotherspoon saw yellow for diving after attempting to round Taouil on the counter.
A Griffiths free-kick came off the wall for a corner, which the striker took and Wotherspoon headed over.
Hearts broke and Holt went through and rounded Williams, only for McGivern to block, with Clancy also in attendance.
In a frantic conclusion, Doyle shot weakly after making space for himself in the box and Hearts scrambled clear as Griffiths tried to meet the follow up.
Then Sutton met a corner from substitute Jamie Walker, but could not keep his header down as the points were shared.