Heroes & Villains: Hearts 2 - 2 Hibs, Edinburgh derby special

Paul Hanlon shoots for goal as Hearts players watch on helplessly. Picture: Greg Macvean
Paul Hanlon shoots for goal as Hearts players watch on helplessly. Picture: Greg Macvean
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Who shone brightest and who had a day to forget from a pulsating and dramatic Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle?

Blazej Augustyn (Hearts)

His misjudging of Liam Henderson’s cross allowed Jason Cummings to loop a header over Neil Alexander, bringing Hibs back into the match at 2-1. However, given he dealt with just about every other attack from Hibs’ almost single-handedly, this is one mistake that should perhaps be forgiven, regardless of how crucial it proved to be.

Hearts’ tactics in the second half - lump it long towards Abiola Dauda, watch the play come straight back - ensured there was tremendous pressure put on the defence, who were missing two of their regular starters with Igor Rossi suspended and Alim Ozturk forced off through injury. It’s maybe not so much a surprise that the unit finally cracked in the closing 11 minutes, but rather that it took so long for it to happen.

Augustyn then almost won the match in the dying seconds as he rose above the defence to power an injury time header that was blocked on the line by Kevin Thomson.

READ MORE - Hearts 2 - 2 Hibernian: late Hibs comeback earns replay

Marvin Bartley (Hibs)

The midfielder expertly played the role of spoiler in front of the Hibs’ back four. So many times in the second half, where Hearts sat deep and looked to attack on the counter, the home side’s intentions were interrupted by a retreating Bartley. He displayed an instinctive sense for danger and looked completely at ease when dispossessing the opposition. It meant Alan Stubbs’ side were in no way affected by the absence of the injured Fraser Fyvie. In fact, the enforced change arguably made them stronger.

Hearts fans would maybe look upon him as a “villain” due to his crunching challenge on Arnaud Djoum at the beginning of the second half. The home midfielder hobbled around for another 30 minutes but was completely ineffective, robbing Hearts of someone they desperately needed to support the attack from deep.

Paul Hanlon (Hibs)

What may rankle with Hearts fans more than losing the injury-time goal itself, was that it was symptomatic of the way the entire match panned out, with Hibs getting to second balls time and again.

For the first 25 minutes of the first half and the entirety of the second, this ensured the visitors stayed on top. In the dying seconds of injury-time, it allowed Hanlon to grab a famous equaliser after Hearts had already defended one effort from Darren McGregor.

Individually, Hanlon turned in another terrific performance at the heart of the Hibs defence. The 26-year-old has benefited tremendously from the drop down in the Ladbrokes Championship as his confidence has flourished in the last 18 months. Now he’s able to be a commanding presence regardless of the opposition.

READ MORE - No live TV coverage of Hibs-Hearts cup replay

John McGinn (Hibs)

The difference between a good Hibs performance and a great one often relies on the individual display of McGinn. When he’s able to continually get himself on the ball and dictate possession, things begin to happen for his side. The game on Sunday was a perfect illustration of this. While he had an early shot that tested Neil Alexander, otherwise McGinn was oddly quiet in the first half, and remained a little subdued the first 15 minutes of the second. Then all-action midfielder came to life. He was at the centre of just about every Hibs attack from that point forward, helping to pin Hearts back and enabling his side dominate possession.

Callum Paterson (Hearts)

It wasn’t a vintage Paterson performance by any means, but he showed the kind of intensity and determination that several of his team-mates lacked, while it was his forays forward that led to both first half goals. Though his cross in the build-up to Djoum’s stunner wasn’t the best, it showed the importance of getting balls quickly into the penalty area, and his cross-field pass for Sam Nicholson’s goal was of real top quality.

He almost helped set-up a third for his side when Abiola Dauda glanced a deep cross a couple of inches wide of the far post.

Alan Stubbs (Hibs)

It’s been stated before, but Sunday was another example of how there is no longer a fear factor from the green half of the city when it comes to Edinburgh derbies. Hibs teams of the past would have capitulated after going two goals down, especially at Tynecastle. Even some of the better Hibs managers of recent times, such as Tony Mowbray, were unable to rouse their players out of a mid-game funk and would watch on helplessly as a close match suddenly became 4-0 to Hearts. That is no longer the case and Stubbs deserves huge credit for this.

His head-to-head derby record with Robbie Neilson may be tied, but, to use a boxing analogy, there’s little doubt Stubbs is winning on points considering how those five matches have played out. This is despite Hearts having a stronger squad, according to the league tables, for every one of these games.

VILLAINS

Abiola Dauda (Hearts)

Neilson gambled on the new signing having a similar sort of full debut impact that his mentor Craig Levein got out of Mark de Vries 13 years ago. It didn’t pay off and, in the end, the selection cost Hearts dearly.

There was little doubt in the second half, when Dauda’s support all but vanished, that the player was struggling with the pace and intensity of the game. However, with two substitutes having already been used, Neilson couldn’t withdraw the striker for fear of another injury, which duly arrived when Djoum could go on no further.

Hearts needed someone who could take the pressure of the back-line by holding the ball up and dragging the rest of the side up the park. In short, they needed Juanma, and yet the striker remained on the bench for the full 90 minutes.

It’s not fair to judge the new signing on this display alone. In the first half, when he actually had some team-mates around him, he made a number of intelligent runs and looked composed on the ball whenever he received possession. However, as the match went on, there’s little doubt his presence in attack became a detriment to the team. The ball continually sailed over his head as he mistimed his jumps, while the blistering pace promised by Neilson following the player’s arrival never materialised.

Robbie Neilson (Hearts)

As manager of Hearts you are expected to do one thing: beat Hibs. Neilson has now gone four games without a victory in derby matches and the voices of discontent are growing louder from the stands.

As Alan Pattullo wrote in today’s edition of The Scotsman, there were mitigating circumstances in Sunday’s match. Mainly, that he lost three players to injuries and could therefore only make reactive changes to the team rather than any proactive moves. However, the general belief from the Hearts support was that there was still enough talent on the park to comfortably see out the game without going into a defensive shell and inviting Hibs to attack for the entire second half.

Furthermore, this match followed the trend of Hearts starting derby games sluggishly under Neilson. Even the lone victory from his time in charge, a 2-1 win at the beginning of last season, saw Hibs miss an early penalty before the hosts took control of the match.

After winning the Ladbrokes Championship so comfortably last year despite the presence of Hibs and Rangers before following it up with a strong season back in the top flight, it’s fair to say he’s built up enought credit for the support to still back him. And if Hearts continue to challenge for Europe every season while he remains as manager then he’ll be under no signficant pressure. However, it will hurt his legacy and ensure he’s not remembered as fondly as some of his predecessors if he doesn’t start getting things right against Hibs.

Lewis Stevenson (Hibs)

It’s tough to be too harsh on the left-back who’s become Mr Dependable for Hibs throughout his long career at Easter Road, but Sunday’s match was not one of his better games. His stooping low header for a ball that was almost at ground level was right out of the James McPake school of defending, while his pressing of Don Cowie high up the pitch, rightly or wrongly, led to the remaining Hibs defenders shifting over and leaving Nicholson free at the back to put Hearts 2-0 up.

Still, in true Stevenson fashion, he never hid for the rest of the game and put in a decent performance in the second half to help make up for his mistakes.

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