Derby day in Edinburgh. Traditionally not our favourite day. Some dread it, some live for it. All of us go into it with that same hope. We will win. I will say that about us, regardless of the actual records in Win, Losses and Draws, we still go in believing we can win. Now, I say “we” as in the fans because I think around the dressing room there is still a nervousness that needs quashed. Of course, a derby win would help but that’s not forthcoming at the moment so on we wait.
Hibernian starting eleven were: Oxley, Gray, Stevenson, Craig, Forster, Nelson, Harris, Robertson, El Alagui, Handling, Stanton.
Substitutes: Perntreou, Heffernan, Tudur Jones, Booth, Cummings, Allan, Kennedy
Danny Handling back in after suspension, Heff back on the bench, Nelson getting a start in place of injured Paul Hanlon.
First off I should point out that I watched this game on TV today and not live. I did listen to bits on the radio but was at work so I watched the game when I got home. Knowing the result I actually thought this might beneficial to me and I assumed that I would skip forward through most of the second half at least. Well, that didn’t happen. The only bits I skipped through were the pundits at the start, during half time and right at the end.
Hibs were never going to run out at Tynecastle full of confidence and nerve-free and hopefully no one would expect them to. Our recent derby history isn’t good. The hope today was that this would change and as the first half settled in it looked like Hibs certainly weren’t going to be bossed by Hearts and they weren’t. That’s one positive at least. Hibs took it to Hearts…and for a while Hearts couldn’t handle it.
Goal wise neither team had many chances but it would be Hibs that got the ultimate chance to take the lead. Willie Collum pointed to the spot on 31 minutes after Hearts débutante goalie, Jack Hamilton, upended Danny Handling, and up stepped club captain, Liam Craig. Anyone would have said Liam Craig would have slotted home the penalty for that is his norm. A goal for Hibs here would lift them but unfortunately Craig’s effort went wide and what should have been a dead cert lead for Hibs became an enormous let off for Hearts.
Liam Craig’s head went into his hands but the heads of the team didn’t go down. Not as they would have in seasons gone by. Hearts looked slightly brighter and seven minutes later they had a chance from Sam Nicholson but Mark Oxley dealt with it and kept Hibs safe.
The first half played out and finished 0-0. Both teams sharing possession fairly equally. From a Hibernian point of view, very disappointing not to have gone in 0-1. What do you do though? The penalty was missed. Hibs would have to put that out their minds and come out into the second half fighting if we wanted to take anything from the match.
The second half was scrappy with both teams struggling to gain anything. Possession was again, almost fairly split. Hearts keeper Hamilton dealt with a timid shot from Forster and then Ozturk had a free kick for Hearts but couldn’t get it past the Hibernian wall.
However, Hearts gained the lead on 76 with a goal from Sam Nicholson. It blazed past Oxley 1-0 Hearts. Still, no heads down but frustration crept in and moments later Scott Robertson found himself walking to the tunnel on a second bookable offence after he brought down Prince Buaben in the box. Fairly soft penalty but it was given and Buaben slotted it past Oxley. 2-0.
Not a great time to be a Hibs fan. Stubbs subbed Stanton at 79 brining on Kennedy and then replaced Handling with Allan at 85. Too little to late though. I’m with many other fans in thinking that subs should have been made earlier. Stanton hadn’t been playing well for most of the match. It was obvious he should have come off earlier but Stubbs is the manager and he made the decisions as he saw fit.
Hearts were themselves reduced to 10 when Osman Sow elbowed Michael Nelson in the face and Collum brought out the red.
However, the match wasn’t over at 2-0 and Hibs gave some consolation by getting one back through Farid El Alagui in stoppage. A nifty move which included flicking the ball over the top of Hearts captain, Danny Wilson, before slotting it past Hamilton. Perhaps too little to late but showing that despite the scoreline and despite the fact that the game was in its dying moments, Hibs weren’t giving up. That is a massive change for Hibs.
The verdict on this from myself is…neither team were particularly dominant. Possession was shared and play was scrappy from both sides. Hibs didn’t bow down to Hearts and it’s a bitter disappointment that Liam Craig missed the chance to put us ahead. However, I don’t imagine for a minute he feels anything other despair and disappointment and he will be genuinely gutted. That miss will have played on his mind the whole game, especially as it would have put us in the lead and who knows where the game would have went. That’s speculation though.
Stanton was disappointing today and I feel Stubbs should have brought him off much earlier than he did. It was good to see Hibs toughen it up a bit today, let’s face it, you have to play a tough game against Hearts and Jamie Walker might wonder what he did to Liam Craig and Lewis Stevenson in the final moments as he was put down on the ground and then faced up to Lewis Stevenson which resulted in a light head butt from Walker to Stevenson. The technical term, I believe, is handbags and it truly was. With referee and linesman in close attendance, Walker might have found himself on the end of a yellow card but it probably wasn’t worth it in the end. Hibs were frustrated to be on the end of yet another derby defeat and Hearts nerves were jangling after losing Sow and a Hibs goal. Yes, late in the game but still, a lead to be defended.
Stevenson though, a player I have backed for season after season. He works hard, usually quietly and gets frustrated when his hard work falls to nothing. I’m pleased to see him still in the team, hopefully a regular in the starting eleven and I certainly think he’ll work hard for Alan Stubbs.
Two games into the season, one win, one loss. Not a brilliant game today, of which Hearts could say the same but they won and we didn’t and that hurts. Derbies will always be scrappy though, goals will always come when you don’t expect it and that dead cert goal will usually not happen.
Hibs are under a lot of pressure at the moment. There’s a negativity to be shaken off from last season and seasons before. It was starting to shift but the derby defeat has brought some of it back. Why? I’m not sure. If you look under the scrappy game then Hibs were, again, playing as a team. The passing wasn’t slick, the style of play wasn’t slick. It never will be playing our arch rivals though. Games against Hearts are always going to be gritty. As they should be.
I’m pleased to get the first derby out done and dusted so early in the season. Feeling in the dressing room when you’re up against your city rivals is different from when facing someone else and this would have given Stubbs the chance to see the difference in Hibs when facing Hearts as to when they face other teams. Hearts have the upper hand on us in derbies and therefore the confidence going into them. Let’s hope Stubbsy can change that.
On another note, I read an article pre-derby that confirms a lot of what I suspect many Hibees already knew. The shambles that Alan Stubbs was taking over. Rather than try to put it in my own words I’ll post a some quotes and a link to the article at the end.
From the article:
Stubbs, though, is willing to be seriously unequivocal in one assessment – where the Leith club are compared to his arrival seven weeks ago. He offers up a judgment that can only be considered a denunciation of the six-month Terry Butcher reign, and perhaps also of the earlier Pat Fenlon era.
“From day one to today, it’s a million per cent better. From when I came in to where we are now is an unbelievable change, it really is. People don’t realise what we’ve had to change over the last eight weeks, in such a short space of time. I’m not sitting here blowing smoke up my own backside but the club – Leeann [Dempster, chief executive], George [Craig] general manager, myself, the players, the staff in here – have done an incredible amount to try and get us to where we are.
“When I came in we had 14 players, we had five young players who had been offered a contract and were then suddenly told they didn’t have that contract.
“We had no physio, no fitness coach, no sports science involved. I had no assistant, no first-team coach, there was a scout/goalkeeping coach [Steve Marsella] – I don’t know how that works but that was what was in place. So that was just some of the things we had to change.”
Most fans suspected that scouting wasn’t happening correctly. Stubbs had this to say:
…”We can’t be scouting players on the back of a Wikipeida page and one individual’s opinion. We need to have background checks, we need to know the player’s medical history.
“We need to see them at least six to eight times and there was none of that in place, none of it whatsoever. At times it was as if it was done off the cuff.”…
Many fans still believe Petrie is the one in control. Stubbs was asked and this was the response:
Asked if he spoke to Petrie regularly, a defensive Stubbs’ initially questioned the “relevance” of such an enquiry. When it was explained the question was put because in his pre-Dempster days as chief executive Petrie was very much hands-on and in daily contact with his managers, Stubbs relaxed and gave an answer that ought to assuage some fans’ fears.
“I say hello to him and we have passed each other in the corridor and stuff like that,” he said.
“I speak to Leeann now, she is my point of contact. I speak to her whenever we are looking at the day-to-day running of the club. If it’s a football matter I’ll speak with Leeann and George. But, yes, I see Rod, but the decisions I make will be with Leeann and George.”
In re-engaging with the fans:
“We’ve tried to engage with the fans massively compared to what has happened over the last few seasons. We know there’s been a breakdown in communications between the club, the community, the players and the supporters, and that needs to be resurrected and built again.
“We’re not soft. Leeann and George are doing a great job in trying to put the wrongs right but unfortunately it’s not going to happen in a week. It may take a couple of months, but the season is over nine months, not one week, and that’s what we’ll be gauging ourselves on.”
Prior to that he also says that the fans are going to be a big part of this season and therefore he is right, the club is right in having to re-engage with the support. It is happening though. There is more contact with supporters. Supporters are finding that the club is more supportive of them in using facilities. You can read the full article here.
The only thing I would say is that the club have to give more back. I’m a season ticket holder. Give me a free ticket for a friend every fourth home game or something like that. I’ll get a friend along. If the seat is going to be empty anyway, what’s wrong with it being given to someone for free, who might come back as a paying supporter the next time, potentially a season ticket holder in seasons to come.
Change for the good will only come if we back it. If we support Stubbs and his new crew. The change can’t happen in a game or in two games, it takes time. The progress made in a short time is telling of what Stubbs, Dempster and others are putting into making it happen.
As noted in previous blogs, we still need a signing or two. Up front and in the back. There is still time.
For me, there has been more positivity than negativity of late.
Meanwhile, focus is now on Saturday 23rd August. Bring on The Bairns!