Until Tuesday night, the sum of John Souttar’s capital derby experience was 13 minutes, in the final throes of a 1-0 defeat in 2016. Unlucky for some.
Even less fortunate was the fact that he had to watch helplessly from the sidelines – denied involvement by a ruptured Achilles – as last season’s two head-to-heads amounted to little more than torture for Hearts. Now, with a full 90 minutes under his belt, he remains less than impressed.
“It was a gutting defeat for us,” said the defender who had failed to halt Simon Murray’s journey to goal in the third minute. That strike would be enough to separate the sides, leaving Souttar and Co rueing their failings. “We didn’t perform at all. We didn’t pass the ball well and we didn’t create many chances. We can’t be saying we were unlucky, because we didn’t create enough.”
It extended Hearts run of derbies without a win to eight and, while there was more fight this time, they were still unable to really test their hosts,
“It’s not an excuse, but it’s tough playing every game away from home, especially when we are still developing as a team. You can see Hibs are a settled side, while we are in transition.”
But, with at least another two derbies this term, the game should serve as an education for the Hearts debutants, particularly youngsters like 16-year-old Harry Cochrane, according to Souttar, pictured.
“Harry came on and did well against a tough midfield. He did himself justice but it was up to the older boys to help him. Playing in front of that kind of crowd can only be good for them. It was a physical game as well, so they can take a lot away from it.”
But while Hibs drew first blood and jumped back above the Tynecastle outfit in the Premiership standings, Souttar insists it is only when the season concludes that bragging rights can be settled. “Everyone has off days or games where they don’t perform. It’s not a week-in, week-out kind of thing. I think this was an off day for us. It’s a big week for us. We were away to our rivals and had two difficult games at Murrayfield. But we’ve got to go there on Saturday and get something against Rangers. We have to go out and do ourselves justice.”