HIBS secured their first win in Gorgie for six years as they tightened their grip on third place, a victory which pushed them eight points clear of their arch-rivals.
Hearts 1-2 Hibs - April 13, 2005
While taunts of “no Hibs in Europe” which rang round Tynecastle ultimately proved premature, Tony Mowbray was refusing to take a place in next season’s UEFA Cup for granted.
As Mowbray pointed out, there were still six matches to be played with all sorts of twists and turns to come. But as things stood it was hard to see Hibs relinquishing their grip on third place after their win in Gorgie, a victory which not only pushed them further ahead of Hearts but four ahead of Aberdeen, the side closest to them in the SPL table.
If the trip across the city was being billed as a test of the resolve and character of Mowbray’s young side in the wake of their disappointing Tennent’s Scottish Cup semi-final defeat by Dundee United, then his players produced an emphatic answer for the sceptics yet again.
But for 45 minutes it looked as if those suggesting Hibs had lost their sparkle at just the wrong time of the season were going to be proved correct, Hearts snatching the lead through the precocious Lee Miller, his header badly misjudged by goalkeeper Simon Brown as it spun up off the turf and beyond his flailing right hand. It was a goal Hearts deserved by dint of the pressure John Robertson’s players had exerted from the first whistle with Hibs rarely able to break out and threaten Craig Gordon at the other end.
As referee John Rowbotham sounded the half-time whistle few would have given much for Hibs’ chances of overturning that lead, such had been the home side’s dominance.
But that’s exactly what Hibs did, as Hearts skipper Steven Pressley ducked his responsibilities in allowing a speculative cross from substitute Amadou Konte to go over his head, an act which caused confusion between Gordon and defender Jason Thomson. As a result, the ball fell at the feet of Garry O’Connor who had the easy task of stroking it into the empty net to claim his 17th goal of the season and his first at Tynecastle. Suddenly, it was Hearts who were rattled and when Konte’s header struck Gordon’s right-hand post there was midfield star Dean Shiels to rifle the ball high into the net for what proved to be the winning goal.
As you’d expect, Hearts hit back but their response was all too predictable, thrusting Kevin McKenna on as a makeshift centre-forward, a role which was hardly unfamiliar to the Canadian defender.
But despite being subjected to an aerial bombardment, Hibs, with Gary Caldwell and Gary Smith immense in the middle of the back four, stood firm.
Hearts: Gordon, Thomson, Wallace, Webster, Pressley, Cesnauskis, Hartley, MacFarlane, McAllister, Miller, Burchill.
Hibs: Brown, Whittaker, Murray, Caldwell, Smith, Brown, Murray, Glass, Shiels, O’Connor, Riordan.