Hughes relieved as Hibs survive assault

Heart of Midlothian 0 Hibernian 0
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The Independent Football

There would have been a collision of thoughts in John Hughes' mind but still, at the end of a frenzied match, the Hibs manager sought out his centre-backs to hug them gruffly. And we might recognise that all we saw and understood might be so briefly and precisely reflected.

The frantic ambition of both teams suited Hearts. But then the forthright approach of the home side and the more circumspect style of Hibs perhaps revealed so much of their natures. While the visitors looked to make sense of the disquiet by trying to apply a kind of measured logic to their play, their opponents were blunt, and fierce, and occasionally effective.

The first half induced a kind of fatigue, so frantic, so feverish, was the ebb and flow. The best of it was two chances which the home side wrenched into being: a volley that Michael Stewart hit while off balance that flew wide, and an Ian Black shot from the edge of the area that was deflected over.

Hughes, spent the opening period urging his players to be more bold with their forward runs, and more true to their measured style. Yet it was Hearts who re-emerged from the interval with the kind of intent that suggested they had been forcibly reminded of the need to assert themselves.

Their accomplishment came from the interventions of individuals; first Andrew Driver burst forward with a thrilling surge, only to hit a tame shot at Graham Stack, then Black's glancing header drifted wide.

"We had enough chances to win the game," Hearts' mana-ger Csaba Laszlo said, "but we didn't have the killer instinct."

It was only when Hibs relinquished some of their caution by sending on a third forward in Derek Riordan that they rediscovered a vital edge.

A deflected David Wotherspoon shot was tipped on to the post by Janos Balogh, then Riordan twice saw efforts saved by the Hearts goalkeeper.

"We came through it," said Hughes. "We came through it."

But the draw gave Rangers the chance to leapfrog Hibs into second place in the SPL which they duly took, courtesy of a Kris Boyd double in the 2-1 win over St Mirren at Ibrox.