Hibs’ Relegation Worries Deepen With Latest Derby Defeat

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Hibs’ hopes of avoiding the play-off spot suffered another set-back this afternoon after losing the last Edinburgh derby of the season to neighbours Hearts at Easter Road.

Manager Terry Butcher made four changes from last weekend with Scott Robertson, Jason Cummings, Ryan McGivern and Liam Craig returning to the starting XI.

A minute’s applause took place ahead of kick off in memory of MSP Margo MacDonald and former Rangers and Hearts full back Sandy Jardine.

Hibs started brightly with the first chance falling to Kevin Thomson just outside the Hearts’ penalty area but his effort was well over the bar.

Sam Stanton then did well to send the ball across the face of goal but there was no one there to take advantage.

On 18 minutes a Cummings’ header flew just wide of the far post with Jamie MacDonald left scrambling across his line as Hibs dominated possession.

Cummings then tried his luck with a powerful strike from 30-yards but the Hearts’ keeper did well to prevent the goal.

Hearts opened the scoring in the 37th minute when Billy King’s corner kick was headed in by Callum Paterson despite Craig’s efforts on the line.

Hearts doubled their lead four minutes later when McGivern was incorrectly penalised and from the resultant free kick Paterson again headed in from close range.

After the break Alex Harris did well to beat Kevin McHattie before his shot was deflected into the side netting before Thomson went close with a powerful drive from the edge of the box.

Cummings was brought down by Scott Robinson who was lucky not to see a second yellow card and it looked as if the youngster would have to go off but after a lengthy period of treatment he returned to the action.

Craig forced a decent save from Macdonald from the resultant free kick then with 22 minutes remaining a well worked free kick by Thomson found Watmore in the box. His effort was blocked but the ball fell to McGivern who sent in an inch perfect cross which Forster headed into the net.

With six minutes left a Hearts clearance was deflected into the path of substitute James Collins however he failed to connect and the chance was lost to the dismay of the Hibs supporters.

Hearts should have wrapped it up in the last minute when Ryan Stevenson ran through on goal before dinking the ball over the advancing Williams only for it to drop wide of the far post.

The referee gave Hibs some hope by awarding six minutes of injury time during which Collins forced a sensational save from MacDonald however the linesman’s flag was raised.

The result leaves Hibs just two points above the play-off spot however Terry Butcher remains confident that his players will avoid the drop.

I’m still utterly convinced that we’re going to be fine,” Butcher told BBC Radio Scotland.

“But we must play at the level of performance we played at today, if not higher.

“The result doesn’t reflect the actual nature of the game for me; they’ve scored two goals against the run of play.

“I think we deserved something from the game but that’s how things are going for us.

“We certainly put in a very good performance here that was full of commitment. But it’s disappointing when you do everything and lose two goals from set pieces.

“We’ve got three games to come and we can’t do anything about this one now.

“What’s it going to take [to secure safety]? It’s going to take the confidence, the belief and bottle that we showed in this match, and take that forward into the next three games and we’ll be alright.”

“Half-time was a difficult team talk because you’re 2-0 down and the crowd are disappointed and angry.

“We’re disappointed and angry as well but we’ve got to come out with a bit of control in the second half, which we did.

“We reacted well in the second half but just couldn’t find that second goal. James Collins had a chance and you would have liked it to go in, because I’d have felt then we could probably go on and get a winner.

“We’ll be hurting because of the reaction from lots and lots of people, but it’s their call, they can react whatever way they like. We’ve got a job to do and we want to finish that job off.

“It helps [that two of three games are at home] because when we score a goal the fans get behind us, they’re desperate for us score and are desperate to see us win.”

Gary Locke said: “Callum’s been great. He’s played all over the place. Coming through the youth system, he played every position possible, apart from goalkeeper. Callum, who sees his long-term future at right-back, has done very well there and we’re delighted that he got two goals for us.

“We played well first half. Second half, Hibs were the better side.

“We’ve showed a different side to our character. In the last month, we’ve won games and played really well. Today was more about character and digging in and I think you saw that in abundance.

“Hibs have got good players; they’ve got a good management team. Everybody’s writing them off. I knew that they would make it difficult for us.

“They did make the game physical. I’m delighted that our players have stood up to that because maybe earlier in the season that wouldn’t have been the case.

“You can definitely see that we’re physically better and fitter and the younger lads are handling themselves a lot better now.”

Hibernian: Williams, McGivern, Nelson, Harris, Robertson (Watmore 65′), Craig, Maybury, Forster, Stanton, Cummings (Collins 71′), Thomson. Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Boateng, Stevenson, Tudur Jones, Handling.

Heart of Midlothian: MacDonald, McHattie, Wilson, McGowan, Stevenson, Robinson, Paterson, Holt, Carrick (McKay 87′), King (Walker 81′), Nicholson (Smith 56′). Substitutes not used: Ridgers, McCallum, Oliver, McGhee.

Referee: Bobby Madden.

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