Fast, furious with no shortage of determination and skill from both teams; last night’s under-20 derby at Newtongrange Star’s New Victoria Park finished all square after three goals in an incredible last five minutes.
Hearts looked to be in control after taking a 63rd minute lead, but two controversial penalties for Hibs then an injury time equaliser meant that the points were shared and players from both teams were rightly applauded off the pitch.
There were several familiar faces in the line-ups with Hibs fielding captain James McPake, Jordon Forster, Sam Stanton and Ross Caldwell, whilst Hearts started with Dale Carrick, Jordan McGhee and Callum Tapping.
Despite Manchester United on Champion’s League duty live on STV, a healthy crowd took their place on the terracing, and there was controversy in the first few seconds when Tapping was lucky to escape a booking for a reckless challenge on Forster,
James McDonaugh’s youngsters started brightly and Cody Mulhall sent a volley well over the bar, then Jason Cummings collected the ball in his own half then beat three Hearts defenders before curling a left foot shot inches past the post.
Hearts fought back and a series of free kicks and corners caused the Hibs defence problems as the play switched from end to end, but it was the Easter Road side who should have taken the lead in the 21st minute. Cummings found Caldwell on the right, and the striker’s cross was met by Stanton, but the teenager’s first time effort was just off target.
Carrick then sent in a long range effort which Horne did well to hold, and Cummings went close with a shot across the face of the goal just before the break.
Oliver went close with a header then Beith sent a free-kick just over the bar, before Mulhall’s long range effort failed to trouble Hamilton in the Hearts’ goal.
Within the space of a minute, both teams almost opened the scoring. A Geary Oliver header struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced on the line as the Hearts players claimed a goal, then Cummings broke through the Hearts defence and lobbed the ball over the keeper, only to see it go narrowly wide into the side netting.
Hearts then took the lead in the 63rd minute when Sam Nicholson controlled an Oliver pass, rode a tackle from Forster and hammered the ball into the net from 12 yards, leaving Horne with no chance.
Five minutes later Horne produced a sensational one handed save from an Adam King free-kick as Hearts dominated possession, but Hibs fought back and only a last ditch tackle prevented Caldwell from equalising.
With time running out, Hibs were awarded a penalty when McGhee kicked Forster in the face as the big defender dived to meet a corner from the right. The hearts players protested that Forster should have been penalised for dangerous play, but the referee ignored their pleas.
Caldwell calmly placed the ball into the right hand corner of the net to square the game.
Two minutes later, Stanton was clipped by Beith inside the box, causing him to stumble, and although he managed to stay in his feet, the referee pointed to the spot, causing more protests from the players and staff.
Caldwell calmly waited as the referee spoke to the Hearts bench, then once again slotted the ball past Hamilton, finding the same spot as his first effort. The goal sparked wild celebrations amongst the Hibs players who appeared to have snatched a victory from the jaws of a defeat, but the Gorgie youngsters refused to give up.
In the 92nd minute, Hearts were awarded a free-kick near the corner of the penalty box, and Beith sent a dangerous cross towards the far post. Horne appeared to get a hand to the ball and after a ‘stramash’ in the six yard box; then McGhee was able to head home from close range for a deserved equaliser.
In the end, a draw was a probably a fair result and both sets of supporters showed their appreciation at the final whistle.
This result leaves Hibs in third position with ten points from four games, three points behind leaders Hamilton with a game in hand.
Hearts remain in 13th place with five points from four games.