Ian Wood sees Tynecastle side battle to 2-2 draw against Hibs
Hearts 2, Hibs 2
The Scotsman, 14 April 1977
HEARTS remain teetering on the brink of relegation, saved for the moment at any rate by a goal as dramatic and zany as any seen at Tynecastle for many seasons, and one which delivered them from yet another certain defeat by their old rivals from across town.
A state of dull, desperate stalemate which set in midway through the second half, persisted until the very last minute when an extraordinary goal was scored.
A ball from the midfield was passing, apparently harmlessly, into offside territory occupied almost exclusively by Hearts players. Jim Brown raced clear without much conviction and the linesman stood with his flag positively raised. Referee John Gordon, however, waved play on and Brown advanced on McDonald, who was the only other player on the field with any relevance to the situation, and ran the ball coolly under the bewildered goalkeeper.
It was an outcome which probably even Hibs wouldn’t begrudge the Tynecastle men who fought all the way, although it must be said that they never looked capable of finishing on level terms by any other means than something spectacular or something odd. In the end, they got a bit of both.
Hearts had started a touch apprehensively which wasn’t surprising, and Hibs did nothing to allay the Tynecastle side’s fears during the opening minutes when Bremner picked up a loose Park pass, sent Scott racing and Gallacher, beating the centre to the ball, almost took care of Cruickshank as well, the goalkeeper doing well to clutch the raking pass back.
When Hearts started to compose themselves, they looked to be moving quite well and a beautiful piece of running by Gibson in response to a searching through ball from Shaw had the home crowd clearing their throats before the centre’s shot hit the side netting.
In the 25th minute Hearts got the goal they’d been so anxiously seeking and it was deserved for they had been playing with an urgency which has not been much in evidence of late. It came from sheer pressure rather than from any build-up.
The ball bounced around in the Hibs area, a Blackley clearance failed miserably, Busby shot against McDonald, the ball came back and Gibson tucked it away gratefully.
Just after the half-hour Hibs went as close to scoring as only they can without actually doing it. Scott lofted over Cruickshank from a Duncan pass and the ball studiously ignored the empty net. Then McLeod, after a smooth build-up by Edwards and Scott, took a right-foot shot from outside the area and Cruickshank knew nothing until the ball had come back off his right-hand post.
In the 38th minute Hibs scored and a beauty it was. McLeod tiptoed daintily past three men in the midfield, sent the least obvious pass to Bremner, who checked out on the right, took a couple of paces inside and from 25 yards bent an astonishing shot into the top right-hand corner of Cruickshank’s goal.
Hibs went ahead five minutes later. Bremner again did the damage after Smith had crossed from the right and a Duncan header had been touched back by Scott. Bremner, moving left across the Hearts goalmouth, took the ball left-footed and on the turn and his low drive was unsaveable.
The second-half play was concentrated more on the midfield than it had been in the free-swinging vein of the first, and the feeling was that Hearts had to do something about this for Hibs, with Edwards, Smith and Bremner operating in this area held an almost overwhelming advantage.
Play had become bogged down to a degree, and it never shook itself out of the rut until the last minute when Brown, sent clear on his own with a linesman’s flag raised for offside, was invited to carry on by referee Gordon and he put the ball away.
Hearts: Cruickshank, Brown, Kay, Shaw, Gallacher, Clunie, Aird, Busby, Gibson, Park, Prentice. Subs – Fraser, Bannon.
Hibs: McDonald, Brownlie, Schaedler, Bremner, Stewart, Blackley, Edwards, McLeod, Scott, Smith, Duncan. Subs - Brazil, Carroll.
Referee: J Gordon.