Craig Fowler gives his take on another enthralling derby between the Edinburgh rivals
Alan Stubbs has completely changed the derby culture at Hibs
Even though Hibs were favoured to win this game, it’s been no guarantee in years gone by. In fact, you could imagine a scenario in the not so distant past where, under the same circumstances, instead of building on the confidence from such a terrific finish at Tynecastle 10 days ago, Hibs actually get crushed by the weight expectation in a derby. But under Alan Stubbs, that just doesn’t happen.
It’s now five games in a row undefeated against Hearts. It may not sound like much to some, but when you consider that the league table has told us for each and every one of those games that Hearts are the better team, that really is a terrific run. No manager is perfect and if Stubbs is going to overhaul Rangers at the top of the Ladbrokes Championship, he’ll need to figure out how to solve the issue of failing to put away teams when on top, something which almost cost them tonight. However, when it comes to derbies, Stubbs always knows exactly what he is doing.
Rangers should regret letting Darren McGregor go
The defender called it the highlight of his career and it’s easy to see why. Not only did the lifelong Hibs fan get to celebrate his first victory in an Edinburgh derby, he did so after putting in a magnificent performance at the heart of the defence.
One of the few positives from the away performance was the amount of good deliveries they put into the penalty area. When they barely created a chance from any of them, it tells you the Hibs centre back partnership played terrifically well.
Some Rangers fans will tell you that Rob Kiernan and Danny Wilson are better, and that may be the case (though I’m not so sure), but wouldn’t it have been better keeping McGregor as a third option rather than loaning in a player from the EPL? Anyway, it’s been Hibs’ gain.
Marvin Bartley is king of the midfield
Another derby and another superb performance from Hibernian’s midfield enforcer. Bartley not only did the job he’s renowned for: breaking up play, throwing his sizeable weight around and protecting the defence. He also was really strong on the football, including a terrific pass in behind Igor Rossi for David Gray to cross for the only goal of the game.
Hearts can’t start derbies strongly under Robbie Neilson
That’s now six Edinburgh derbies during Neilson’s time as Hearts manager and his side have not started well in any of them. In the opening 20 minutes of every single derby going back to the start of last season, Hibs have began the better side. Even in the game Hearts won, a 2-1 win at Tynecastle, Hibs missed an early penalty as the hosts took a while to get into stride. And the match 10 days ago, despite leading 2-0 at half-time, it wasn’t until Arnaud Djoum’s terrific opener that Hearts started to play.
Threads on the fans forums calling for Neilson to be sacked are completely ridiculous. You cannot define yourself by results against one club. However, it’s obvious the reticence some supporters have in embracing their former captain comes down to his record in these matches.
There’s no denying it now, Neilson being unable to beat Hibs is becoming an issue.
Miguel Pallardo is a liability in big matches
The Spaniard was terrific last season, but even then there was evidence that he struggled with more high tempo encounters. The games are just too fast for him and his enthusiasm in lunging into challenges makes him a liability. Not only was he booked yet again at Easter Road (the biggest certainty prior to kick-off), he also was lucky not to be sent off for a lunge on John McGinn in front of the dugout. Once more, he had to be taken off before he was sent off. He also failed to make much of an impact on or off the football.