The team drew 0-0 at a bustling Easter Road and both had chances to win the game.
Robbie Neilson was without center backs Craig Halkett and John Souttar as they looked to put more distance between themselves and their rivals.
How did Toby Sibbick play in the middle of defense?
It was a makeshift defense for the visitors with John Souttar and Craig Halkett injured. It was a great evening for the new signing in the center of defence. Taylor Moore and Nathaniel Atkinson struggled with Josh Doig’s surge down the left. On the other hand, Stephen Kingsley had his hands full covering Andy Halliday. A lot of responsibility fell on Sibbick’s shoulders down the middle.
The Englishman showed his composure, strength and reading of the game to make important saves when Hibs attacked from behind. In general, he managed Christian Doidge and did not take any chances.
As the game went on, he got better and better, making a crucial block to deny Kevin Nibset midway through 45 seconds before a goal-line clearance in the final minute to deny Josh Campbell.
Cammy Devlin, of all people, had some of Hearts’ best starts in the first half, the first running into a beautiful ball over midfield Beni Baningime. When the two play as a pair, the system needs one to show a more direct attacking desire when he is out of possession. That was encouraging from the Hearts perspective. Sometimes, however, the Aussie couldn’t speed up the game, taking an extra touch or the easy option on the ball. At one point he received a reprimand from Kingsley for not playing more positively.
Baningime was excellent in the first 45 minutes. He is calm with the ball but his defensive work is impressive. He covered the ground very well and got the foot out of awkward areas. He did so well early on to stop Chris Mueller when the Hibs forward moved into a promising position.
He was more profligate in possession after the break but remained an important point guard in midfield.
Going into the match, only Celtic’s Liel Abada had created more important chances for his team-mates. The problem for Hearts was the inability to get him on the ball in dangerous areas. By the end of the first half he had attempted as many passes as Craig Gordon.
It wasn’t a surprise, so when he got the ball on the turn and had room to drive, he introduced Ellis Simms in the team’s best chance to that point. But that was the last real involvement of the team’s creative force, traded for Ben Woodburn after 68 minutes.
With McKay quiet, it’s no surprise that Boyce and Simms were also quiet in the first 45 minutes. Nothing stuck with both guilty of being loose with the ball. That changed after the break. Simms stretched the game, becoming a threat at the back, while also being much sharper in his hold-up and link game. He showed excellent movement coming up to McKay’s pass. He was simply guilty of passing up good opportunities.
Meanwhile, Boyce was able to forage into deeper positions, linking midfield with attack.
Hearts fought on the flanks, especially in the first half. Nathaniel Atkinson simply couldn’t control the pace of the derby, as his crossing from good positions went astray. Andy Halliday had a tough time over Chris Cadden and his position was hampered by an early booking. Craig Gordon, however, was mostly calm throughout.
Gordon 6; Moore 6, Sibbick 8, Kingsley 7; Atkinson 5, Baningime 7, Devlin 6 (Haring 90′ N/A), Halliday (Cochrane 68′ 6) 5; McKay (Woodburn 68′ 6) 6, Boyce 7 (Ginnelly 80′ N/A), Simms 7.
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