Hearts-Hibs extras: The big substitution, Collum's death stare at Naismith, no punches thrown, Rowles and Levitt

Hearts and Hibs served up a pulsating Edinburgh derby at Tynecastle, with the visitors coming back from 2-0 down to earn a draw.

We pick out some of the talking points from a fine afternoon in Gorgie despite the inclement conditions.

Naismith and the Lowry substitution

The magnifying glass, post-match, was turned on the decision by Hearts manager Steven Naismith to remove Alex Lowry around the hour-mark. The on-loan playmaker had been one of the stars of the show, the creative force in the final third for the Jambos. Hibs could not live with him as the 21-year-old glided in between the visitors’ defence and midfield. He forced Christian Doidge into scoring an own goal and looked to be enjoying himself. Given his lack of starts, it is perhaps unsurprising that Naismith decided it was time to take him off due to fatigue, but one wonders whether Liam Boyce rather than Beni Baningime ought to have appeared. Hearts’ midfield became a flatter three with the more defensive-minded Baningime on, while Boyce would have slotted into the No 10 role where Lowry had been so influential. Hearts were clearly the superior team at this point and had their foot on Hibs’ throat. The change appeared to give Hibs impetus, as they altered little in a tactical sense, with only Adam Le Fondre coming on. Hindsight is always a wonderful thing in football but Hearts could have really put Hibs to sleep had they maintained an attacking impetus.

Hearts head coach Steven Naismith and his Hibs counterpart Nick Montgomery shake hands after the 2-2 draw at Tynecastle.Hearts head coach Steven Naismith and his Hibs counterpart Nick Montgomery shake hands after the 2-2 draw at Tynecastle.
Hearts head coach Steven Naismith and his Hibs counterpart Nick Montgomery shake hands after the 2-2 draw at Tynecastle.

Will Montgomery change his ways?

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New Hibs manager Nick Montgomery has made no secret of his aggressive, attacking instincts. The Hibees rocked up at Tynecastle in an adventurous 4-4-2 formation, containing essentially four forwards. The big question was whether Hibs’ midfield two of Joe Newell and Jimmy Jeggo would be able to cope with Cammy Devlin, Calem Nieuwenhof and Lowry. For much of the match, Hibs were second best in the midfield battle – often to the point where they bypassed it and tried to get the ball to the final third as quickly as possible. Wide players Martin Boyle and Elie Youan are asked to be narrow out of possession and keep the pitch compact, but Youan in particular needs to be more defensively-savvy in such a system. Montgomery deserves plaudits for his half-time teamtalk and the way Hibs manager to climb out of a hole – but it could have been so much deeper had Hearts made their superiority count more in the first half. With matches against Rangers and Celtic to come after the international break, it will be fascinating to see if Hibs will be quite as cavalier against Glasgow’s big two.

Class and no punches thrown

Last time Hearts and Hibs met, there was an almighty kerfuffle between the two teams at full time and then-Hibs manager Lee Johnson aimed a couple of sly punches at Naismith. No such handbags this time around. It was competitive match with lots of tackles – referee Willie Collum did a good job, even if the yellow card was out by five minutes. In fact, a word must be given to the referee for a death stare he gave Naismith during the first half for having the temerity to question one of his decisions. The whistler was in his element on Saturday. But the behaviour of all should be commended and there was a classy, firm handshake between the two managers afterwards.

A word for Levitt

Dylan Levitt came on with 20 minutes to go for Jeggo and really impressed with his use of the ball. The Welshman suffered an ankle injury in Luzern back in August and is trying to force his way into the starting XI. His composure on the ball and crisp passing made Hibs a more accurate and threatening team. The former Dundee United man does not have the defensive nous of Jeggo, who has been impressive under Montgomery, but it was pleasing to see him do well in such an important match, given he is such a talented player. Now he has to force his way unto the starting XI.

Rowling Rowles

Hearts fans have been quick to criticise Kye Rowles over the past year, but the defender is getting back to his best. He played well at centre-half and was then asked to fill in at left-back when Stephen Kingsley, which he did so diligently given it is not his natural position. He was unfortunate to see a late shot deflected on to the bar and made a vital block to stop Martin Boyle scoring. It was a good afternoon’s work from the 25-year-old.

Were Sky missed?

This was one of the most exciting Edinburgh derbies for some time. Saturday, 3pm, teeming rain, two good teams and a packed stadium. Those inside Tynecastle certainly enjoyed the traditional kick-off time, those locked out perhaps less so with the TV blackout. Sky Sports don’t show every Hearts v Hibs match these days, like before – although the next one on December 27 is already booked in by the broadcaster. Not showing this match on TV enhanced the experience for those fortunate to have a ticket, but the unlucky ones stuck at home would surely have enjoyed it on the box. Sky should be given credit for being the ones happy to pour money into Scottish football – but really, the Edinburgh derby should be on every time.