You would scarcely have known it from the opening half hour, but after a debut goal from Hibs' Andy Dow, a late equaliser from Gary MacKay and several minor indiscretions along the way, the spectrum of derby emotions was eventually well covered.
The minute's silence for the Dunblane tragedy was observed with such severity it seemed the city itself had been struck dumb. Indeed it wasn't until the players' blood began to boil that the supporters really got involved. Hibs made the strange move of benching two of their more creative talents, Michael O'Neill and Kevin McAllister, in favour of Dow, who signed from Chelsea a fortnight ago.
But playing the role of a modern wing-back, he twice twisted past Hearts' skipper, Gary Locke, swinging over left- footed crosses that Dave McPherson had to clear from the feet of Hibs' striker Keith Wright. He looks an exciting prospect coming forward, but his defence was less convincing when Alan Johnston turned him easily.
For Hearts, John Colquhoun created and missed their best chance of the first half after twisting through Hibs' central defence. He shot between Jim Leighton's legs, but a back heel saved the keeper's blushes and deflected the ball wide.
As we approached the half-hour, tensions manifested themselves in elbows and teeth. Pasquale Bruno drew an imaginary blade across his throat staring out the Hibs bench, while McPherson and Alan McManus were booked in the space of three minutes for tree-felling tackles. Then as Leighton got down to hold a Neil Pointon cross ,Bruno rushed in trailing his feet, and while players scuffled the referee, Les Mottram, remained oblivious. At least it lifted the crowd and minutes later Locke mysteriously lay prostrate on the byline and Mottram was required to pacify the Hearts' management team. A goal was needed to bring minds back to the job at hand, if nothing else, and five minutes after the break Dow obliged.
McPherson toiled and stumbled deep in his own half allowing Gareth Evans to steal the ball and cross into the penalty area. Wright's shot deflected back to Darren Jackson who in turn fed Dow wide on the left. His low shot squirmed through Leighton's legs.
Hibs gained courage from the goal and could have extended their lead when Wright's lob was cleared off the line by John Millar. Then a perfectly weighted pass by Jackson was squandered by O'Neill, who had appeared from the bench. Hearts countered and Johnston was desperately unlucky when he delivered an outrageous lob which Leighton could only pad on to the bar as he fell backwards into his own goal. With six minutes, left Millar crossed in from the right and Colquhoun nodded it down into an exposed area in front of goal. MacKay pounced and prodded past Leighton. Hearts will claim it was all they deserved while Hibs must rue their missed chances.Reuse content