Maroon Memories: Hibs 1-2 Hearts, March 16, 2002
Having guided Hibs to successive victories over St Johnstone and Livingston and regained the much-needed organisation in the process, most neutrals expected the new man in charge at Easter Road to keep up the good work against Hearts.
As it happened, a manager did exert a decisive influence on the outcome of this hectic game, but he turned out to be standing in the away dug-out. Without a win over Hibs since succeeding Jim Jefferies and privately admitting to a growing sense of nervousness about the match, it was typical of the twisted logic of derbies that Craig Levein should be the one who emerged with his reputation enhanced.
Levein proved the mastermind by changing formation to exploit the spaces Hibs left behind as they pushed forward in search of the winner, although the coach's original selection which saw a centre-half, Kevin McKenna, start the game as a striker and a midfielder, Scott Severin, line up in central defence left a sense of bewilderment among the away ranks.
Severin's unfamiliarity with the defensive role caused a moment of comic confusion when he collided with Antti Niemi and needlessly conceded the corner which led to the first goal.
When John O'Neil swung over a tempting cross, Gary Caldwell nodded the ball on and Garry O'Connor punished the mistake by stabbing a half-volley into the net after just five minutes.
Severin would only say in his own defence that he didn't hear Niemi's shout. If he was at fault on that occasion, however, the player made amends with a crucial challenge which prevented O'Connor scoring a second goal and then lashed home a 20-yard equaliser five minutes before the interval.
A bold change of tactics from 4-4-2 to 3-5-2 with 15 minutes played in the second half could have backfired on Hearts, but a late counter attack saw Ricardo Fuller get the better of Gary Smith and then be brought down by a clumsy tackle from Caldwell.
As replays confirmed, it was a penalty and Steven Pressley, Hearts' club captain, matched technique with nerve by driving the winning goal hard and low into the corner to send the Hearts fans home on a high.
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