Hearts have the better of derby draw
Hearts dominated the play but, as has happened so often this season, found themselves unable to score the goal that would have sealed the points. Christian Nade hit the woodwork twice, Gary Glen once, while there were countless further opportunities in front of Ma-Kalambay's goal. But a combination of poor finishing, wretched luck, and surprisingly good goalkeeping allowed the visitors to escape back to Leith with a point they scarcely deserved.
Despite fielding a makeshift back-line, there was little sign of nervousness about Hearts early play, as the home side set about carving out an early advantage. Andrew Driver was the first player to threaten either goal, cutting in from the left to drive a rising shot towards Ma-Kalambay's near post. It looked as if the effort would have hit the side netting, but the big Belgian made sure with an acrobatic leap and parry round the post.
Lewis Stevenson then blasted high over the crossbar from eight yards after Alan O'Brien's corner fell at his feet inside the area, but most of the traffic was towards the other end of the pitch, Driver continuing to torment David Van Zanten although admittedly with little in the way of an end product. The closest we came in the first period was in 21 minutes and, given the neatness of some of the play we had seen up until then, it came from the simplest of moves. Robbie Neilson's long throw was met by Christian Nade ahead of Thicot, and the Frenchman's back header caught Ma-Kalambay way off his line but bounced off the top of the crossbar.
Steven Fletcher then fired wide on the turn as Hibs looked to relieve the pressure, but Larry Kingston's effort at the other end was better, a ferocious low shot that had Ma-Kalambay at full stretch as he turned the ball round the post.
Having been forced to recast his defence before the game, Csaba Laszlo had to think yet again after half an hour when Jason Thomson was injured following his own tough touchline challenge on David Van Zanten. The youngster played on for five minutes but eventually was forced to make way for Gary Glen, with Eggert Jonsson moving out to the left and Christos Karipidis moving to partner Berra in the centre.
Glen almost made an instant impression when he moved onto a Neilson pass and flicked the ball over Ma-Kalambay's head but before he could get to the loose ball it was cleared by Thicot. The youngster's introduction meant that Michael Stewart moved back into central midfield and the new position seemed to suit him much better, allowing him to weave into the box and finish the half with a scuffed shot which was clutched by Ma-Kalambay at the second attempt.
Hearts started the second half in much the same way as they had finished the first, Driver reversing the play sublimely with a pass to Jonsson on the left touchline, the Icelander then cutting back a great ball to which Nade played first-time onto the base of Ma-Kalambay's right-hand post.
Deividas Cesnauskis appeared for the ineffective Kingston and immediately combined beautifully with Nade on the right-hand side of the field. Three first time passes saw the ball fall to Glen at the edge of the area, but once again the final effort was scuffed straight at Ma-Kalambay. The teenager's next effort was rather more powerful, turning quickly onto Stewart's long pass from his own half to deliver a fierce shot from 30 yards, which struck the top of Ma-Kalambay's crossbar.
You wondered whether Hearts would come to rue those missed chances, and they almost did when Stevenson floated a deep ball in towards Fletcher at the far post. Only a combination of Balogh's agility and Berra's watchfulness prevented the Scotland international from opening the scoring. The match finished with Hearts still on the front foot, but still making heavy weather of the scraps that came their way. Neilson finished off an enterprising right-wing run with a fine cross to the far post which Nade blazed high over the bar, Stewart missed a tempting Driver cutback from the left, before Cesnauskis rounded off the game with a left foot effort just over the crossbar.
Hearts: Balogh; Neilson, Jonsson, Berra, Thomson (Glen 34); Kingston (Cesnauskis 53), Karipidis, Palazuelos, Driver; Stewart; Nade. Booked: Berra. Subs not used: Kello, Mole, Templeton, Rapnik, Brown.
Hibernian: Ma-Kalambay; Van Zanten, Hogg, Murray, Stevenson; Johansson, Thicot, Bamba, O'Brien (Shiels 69) ; Riordan, Fletcher. Booked: Stevenson, Riordan, Murray. Subs not used: McNeil, Yantorno, Nish, Keenan, Rankin, Chisholm.
Referee: Calum Murray
Top man: Eggert Jonsson
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