Hearts 0-0 Hibernian: Disgraceful scenes mar derby draw

This was a contest so fiery that when the fire alarm went off to evacuate the stadium at full-time, the only surprise was that it had not been sounded earlier.

Tempers flare after  Florain Kamberi's challenge on Ollie Bozanic that led to the Hibs striker's dismissal in the second half.
Tempers flare after Florain Kamberi's challenge on Ollie Bozanic that led to the Hibs striker's dismissal in the second half.

This was pulsating, competitive, compelling and passionate and, while it was sometimes lacking in real quality and finesse, it more than compensated for that with the kind of drama only derbies can serve up.

It was an often ill-tempered, blood-and-thunder encounter, where every ball was contested and the high-octane energy in the stands was reflected on the pitch. There was little time for grabbing a breath, let alone a goal.

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Yet, there was still plenty of action as Hearts extended their unbeaten home run against their city rivals, who have not tasted victory at Tynecastle in more than five and a half years.

A sending-off, several on-field skirmishes, flares in the stands and, on top of all that, Hearts goalie Zdenek Zlamal was attacked by a fan, while visiting manager Neil Lennon was felled when a coin was thrown at him.

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On the pitch, while there were no goals, there was still plenty of action to get the punters on their feet and the coaching staff hot under the collar as Hibs were reduced to ten men and both teams battled for everything.

Everything had been going so well for Hearts. Top of the league table, into the final four in the first major knockout competition of the season and tackling each challenge with something of a swagger, circumstances have eroded some of the confidence as well as their Premiership lead.

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On the back of being dumped out the Betfred Cup at the penultimate stage, and the addition of Steven Naismith to an already brutal injury list, Hearts also went into last night’s derby without Steven MacLean thanks to the striker’s weekend indiscretion.

Peter Haring and Clevid Dikamona did manage to start, despite a pinched nerve and dead leg respectively and the former was the surprise package on the night, playing in an advanced position.

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Bought as a centre-half in the summer, Haring has been one of Craig Levein’s star performers in the midfield but with attacking options dwindling, the Austrian’s aerial ability and physical presence was considered the perfect foil for young Callumn Morrison up front. It was a useful pairing given how difficult it proved for either team to dominate in the middle of the park, where Hibs proved themselves prepared for the battle.

Still missing Paul Hanlon and with David Gray also ruled out, Jamie Maclaren and Emerson Hyndman, who have had their own fitness woes, were only deemed ready for the bench.

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Steven Whittaker, Vykintas Slivka and Marvin Bartley gave them bite and, in Stevie Mallan, they had the evening’s class act. Creative, his talents were no shock to anyone, particularly from set-pieces where his delivery is always a threat. Already this term he has scored nine goals, all from outside the box, but, on a night when free-kicks were to be expected, as both teams went at it, the home manager had voiced confidence in his side’s ability to deal with whatever the Hibs star was able to throw at them.

In the first half, they required the help of the crossbar to 
foil one attempt, while 
Zlamal, was left scrambling across his goalmouth to slap another set-piece which almost caught him out as it was fired in low at the near post.

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Darren MacGregor will also rue his profligacy after he lost Dikamona at the back post, but sent his powerful header into the side-netting.

But, while Hibs could argue that they had enjoyed the best of the opportunities in the first half, despite Hearts starting brightly and taking the game to their guests, there was not much in it.

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The second half was similar, but momentum swung Hearts’ way with 25 minutes remaining.

Hearts had been too slow in pulling the trigger and were finding it difficult to find the space for a shot. It meant they rarely troubled Adam Bogdan. Hibs were brighter and quicker and their progress up the field but, when Ollie Bozanic was clattered in the 64th minute, an ill-tempered melee ensued.

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When calm was eventually restored, Hibs striker Florian Kamberi’s hot-headedness left his colleagues at a numerical disadvantage as he was shown a second yellow card.

The pressure-cooker atmosphere which had been building even before a ball was kicked, finally boiled over on the pitch just after the hour when Martin Boyle and Michael Smith squared up in front of the Wheatfield Stand and, after some pushing and shoving, they were both booked.

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But that was mere kindling and things ignited minutes later when Bozanic hit the ground.

Hearts threw on Craig Wighton in the wake of the sending-off to try to make the most of their extra man and break the deadlock and, although it looked like they had done that in the dying minutes, Dikamona’s effort was ruled off for offside. It was in the aftermath, as Lennon celebrated the reprieve, that he was hit by the missile. It was just another disappointing moment that ensured that no-one was leaving the ground talking of the football.