Passion is the key feature of a derby, no matter if its Dundee v Dundee united, Rangers v Celtic or in this case Hibernian v Hearts and there was plenty passion on show at Easter Road yesterday.
The fans displayed it through their disgraceful actions; firstly the Hearts supporters threw flares onto the pitch after their first goal, which resulted in the match being stopped while stewards removed them, but they were trumped by the missiles aimed at Hearts players from supporters in a section the east home stand in the final minutes of the match.
Derek Riordan displayed his passion with a scything tackle on Rudi Scakel that reeked of desperation, and the whole Hearts team displayed it in their convincing 2-nil win over their archenemies. It was just a pity that Riordan, and the rest of his teammates didn’t show any in their performance or we may have had a better contest.
The pre-match build up had been all about Hibs and their new boss’ first home match in charge. Calderwood said the derby was the best way to start his Easter Road career and his team started brightly enough. The first twenty minutes saw Hibs and Hearts engage in a scrappy midfield battle but with no clear domination it was apparent that whoever got the first snipe at goal would go on to command the game.
And it was to be the visitors. Hibs’ midfielder Danny Galbraith gave away the ball cheaply on the halfway line and David Templeton took full advantage with a dizzying run where he glided through the Hibs defence, remarkably, without a single challenge from a Hibernian player. The young hearts midfielder only had to cut in from the left and take a shot which he did beautifully, the ball bulleting past Hibernian keeper Mark brown.
Hearts dominated the rest of the match in all departments with only a fifteen-minute spell by Hibs after the break when they looked more determined to thrust their mark on the match. The introduction at half time of Lithuanian target man Valdas Trakys for John Rankin gave Hibs more presence up front but that only lasted until the 60th minute when hearts doubled their lead.
David Wotherspoon came on for the uninspiring Danny Galbraith but the Scotland under-21 barely had time to break a sweat before fellow substitute Stephen Elliot pounced on a sloppy Michael hart clearance to seal the deal for the Jambos.
Hibernian were now dead and buried and Hearts managed to control the rest of the game without threatening too much. Hibernian’s attempt to push forward infuriated the home fans with long ball after long ball heading astray.
The only thing left to do was to release some frustration; Derek Riordan’s history with Rudi Scakel provided a catalyst in the Hibs captain’s sending off. Riordan brought down the hearts favourite from behind and although pictures revealed
afterwards that it was not as bad as it seemed, the intent was clear to see for referee Willie Collum as he sent the frustrated Riordan packing in the 84th minute.
The hearts players celebrated their win with an appreciative away support but in all truth neither team performed to their best. Hibs were there for the taking and the disappointment of the home fans will be etched into their ‘heroes’ memories for a long time. Hearts were never challenged and Colin Calderwood will have realized the enormity of the job that he has on his hands of pulling Hibs up the table. A victory for Rangers over St Mirren earlier in the day meant Hibs escaped the bottom of the SPL with Paisley team propping them up in 11th position.
Hearts meanwhile propelled themselves into 4th spot and set themselves up nicely for a visit from Celtic on Wednesday night. Hibernian face Rangers at Ibrox, and with Derek Riordan facing an automatic suspension it is hard to see where the goals could come from. Tough times lie ahead for Calderwood and he will have to wait until January before he can go about adding to the squad. In the immediate future however, he faces the even tougher job of rejuvenating a hapless Hibs team into something resembling a football squad.