Hearts held in Edinburgh derby

Hearts' impotent attack let them down once again as Hibernian held on for a 0-0 draw in the first Edinburgh derby of the season at Tynecastle.

Last Updated: 07/11/09 at 17:30 Post Comment

Stack: Barely tested in Hibs' goal

Stack: Barely tested in Hibs' goal

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The goal-shy Jambos dominated much of Saturday's lunchtime kick-off but were unable to seriously test Graham Stack in the Hibernian goal.

And Hearts almost paid the ultimate price for their profligacy, as goalkeeper Janos Balogh tipped David Wotherspoon's drive onto the post and also had to be alert to deny substitute Derek Riordan.

Both sides made three changes for the game, which kicked off in glorious Gorgie sunshine.

The injury-hit Jambos recalled fit-again captain Michael Stewart, giving a full debut to Arvydas Novikovas and handing a first appearance of the season to Jason Thomson.

Hibs were forced to change their starting line-up for the first time in five games, with Riordan only on the bench after injuring himself in an incident with his dog.

Merouane Zemmama and Sol Bamba failed to make the squad at all, meaning recalls for Colin Nish and John Rankin and a first start under John Hughes for Lewis Stevenson.

High-flying Hibs knew victory would see them go joint top of the table alongside Celtic, who visit Falkirk on Sunday.

Hearts, who were looking to avoid a hat-trick of competitive derby defeats for the first time since 1922, were desperate for a win to kick-start a season that had brought just two in 10 SPL games.

The minute's silence for Remembrance Sunday was not without disruption from both sets of fans.

The home support almost had reason to make noise in the opening exchanges when Christian Nade's header from a long throw was deflected just wide for a corner.

Steve Conroy was in lenient mood, refusing to card Abdessalam Benjelloun for a crude challenge on Ian Black or Stewart - who was everywhere - or Liam Miller for kicking the ball away.

The referee finally snapped midway through the half when the excellent Stewart was upended by Anthony Stokes, before Black sent a first-time drive just over from the edge of the box.

Hearts were awarded a succession of corners and long throws but Hibs were standing up to the bombardment.

Having created nothing to that point, the only genuine chance of the half fell to the visitors, but Stokes failed to get good contact on a Nish flick-on from 12 yards.

Hearts twice went close within three minutes of the restart.

Andrew Driver spoilt a fine run straight at the Hibs defence with a tame finish before Novikovas was unlucky not to find the net when his spectacular overhead kick was blocked by Stevenson.

Thomson's flighted cross was then glanced just past the post by Black, who also fired in a mid-range left-foot shot which was comfortably held by Stack.

With barely 10 minutes played, Hibs boss Hughes threw on Riordan for Benjelloun.

Nade headed the latest Jose Goncalves long throw wide before Hibs almost took the lead out of nothing in the 65th minute.

Wotherspoon drove forward from right-back and let fly from 25 yards, forcing Balogh to spring to his left and tip the ball onto his near post.

Hearts replaced Novikovas with Gary Glen up front midway through the half.

But Hibs were finally enjoying some space, Riordan forcing another fine near-post stop from Balogh before Rankin blazed over when well placed.

With 18 minutes remaining, Hearts brought off Black for David Obua.

The visitors continued to look the bigger threat, Riordan stinging Balogh's palms with an angled half-volley.

Nade was soon withdrawn for Jamie Mole, whose first contribution was to earn Ian Murray a booking for a mistimed tackle.

Glen shot over the bar two minutes from the end and fired too close to Stack in stoppage-time, Hearts screaming in vain for a penalty as Mole went over the keeper trying to net the rebound.

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2 Inverness 7 6 16
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6 Dundee 7 -1 10
7 Aberdeen 6 2 9
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11 St Mirren 6 -7 3
12 Ross Co 7 -15 0

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