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Hearts’ Relegation Postponed After Beating Hibs At Tynecastle

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Hibs dismal run of form continued today with a 2-0 defeat to Hearts at Tynecastle and whilst yet another disgraceful blunder by a linesman prevented a late equaliser for the Easter Road side, in truth Hearts deserved the victory to stave off relegation for at least another three days.

The Hearts’ fans have already accepted their fate, but were determined to drag their rivals into a relegation play off and the players were greeted with chants of ‘You’re going down with the Jambos.’

Terry Butcher made six changes to the side that lost to St Johnstone in Perth last weekend with goalkeeper Ben Williams, Alan Maybury, Duncan Watmore, James Collins, Danny Handling and Lewis Stevenson returning to the starting line-up.

Hearts started brightly and took an early lead when Ryan Stevenson knocked down Calum Paterson’s cross into the path of Dale Carrick who knocked the ball past Williams into the net to the delight of the home fans.

Hibs should have been level on 39 minutes when Watmore did well to wrong-foot Kevin McHattie before picking out Collins on the edge of the box but the former Swindon striker hit the ball well over the bar.

Just before the half time whistle, Hearts almost added a second with a fine strike from Sam Nicholson but Williams produced a sensational one handed save to keep the deficit at one goal.

Hibs started the second half strongly and had a penalty claim turned down when Collins’ shot struck the arm of Dylan McGowan then Ryan McGivern headed just wide from a Stanton corner.

Hearts looked dangerous on the break however and David Smith went close with an angled drive.

Alex Harris replaced Watmore and he was soon involved testing Jamie MacDonald with a fierce shot.

McDonald then did well to hold Collins’ shot before a long range McGivern drive flew well wide.

With eight minutes remaining Hibs thought they had levelled when Forster powered in a header but the linesman raised his flag even though television replays clearly showed that he was two yards onside when the cross came in.

With Hibs pushing forward to try and get an equaliser, they were caught on the break and a mistimed tackle from Maybury on King saw the Irishman shown a second yellow card.

Hibs continued to press with Michael Nelson playing up front, but in time added on Billy King accepted a Ryan Stevenson through ball before calmly rounding Williams to slot the ball into the empty net sparking wild celebrations from the Gorgie faithful.

After the game an angry Terry Butcher told BBC Scotland: It’s scandalous, it really is. Every club in the bottom half is in a dog fight. We need to pull our fingers out and work harder” .

“It’s a horrendous call from the linesman. He can see right along the line of grass. He can spot the player who was playing Jordon Forster on.

“Despite the possession we had, we hardly tested Jamie MacDonald in goal. We had reasonable scrappy opportunities – Ryan McGivern had a header over the bar – but not clear-cut ones.

“We kept plodding away in the second half going towards our fans, who were tremendous again, but there were too little shots, too little good crosses into the box and you are never going to score on that basis. Having said that, when we did score it was chalked off for offside that never was. It was a great cross and a great header.

“We had momentum. That goal would have lifted us and who knows what would have happened. For that to be chalked off it’s hard to take.”

“The players worked very hard, the system was good and they applied themselves but we’ve lost the game and it’s hard to take. We’ve left them in no uncertain terms that we need to get going now.

“We have six games left and we have to get points and I am confident that we can do that. Every club in the bottom half is in a dog fight. We need to pull our fingers out and work harder.

“We’ve gone from being a really difficult team to play against, when we [he and assistant Maurice Malpas] came here, to being a team that concedes goals and doesn’t score at the other end.”

Hibs’ next match is at home to Aberdeen on Monday 7 April.

Heart of Midlothian: MacDonald, Paterson, McHattie, Hamill, McGowan, Wilson, Smith (McCallum 77′), Holt (Robinson 87′), Carrick (King 83′), Stevenson, Nicholson. Substitutes not used: Ridgers, Walker, McKay, McGhee.

Hibs: Williams, Maybury, McGivern, Taiwo (Thomson 69′), Forster, Nelson, Watmore (Harris 68′), Stanton, Collins, Handling (Cairney 85′), Stevenson. Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Craig, Boateng, Heffernan.

Referee: Steven McLean.

Photo by JC Mackintosh

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