A last minute goal from teenage striker Ross Caldwell ended Hibs dismal run of SPL games without a win over city rivals Hearts, and ensures the bragging rights over the summer.
The result means that Hibs leapfrog Hearts into 9th position and creates a little piece of history as this is the first time in twelve years that Hearts have failed to win at least one derby game throughout a season.
Manager Pat Fenlon made six changes to the side that started last weekend’s abandoned match with Kilmarnock, and youngster Jordon Forster was handed his debut to replace injured captain James McPake. Ross Caldwell who has an impressive derby record in the Under 20s started only his second game in the green and white jersey.
Hibs started brightly in the wet conditions, but it was Hearts who were first to threaten when an 11th minute corner kick caused problems in the defence with the ball twice cleared from the line , first from Lewis Stevenson and then Alan Maybury from Barr and Michael Ngoo respectively.
Hibs fought back and Alex Harris’ first time effort was well saved at his near post by MacDonald in the Hearts’ goal as Pat Fenlon’s men started to dominate possession.
In the 22nd minute Hibs should have been awarded a penalty kick when Kevin Thomson was brought down by Ryan Stevenson, however referee Steven McLean waved play on to the fury of the Hibs midfielder and the travelling support.
MacDonald then did well to push away a shot from Caldwell after a great pass by Jorge Claros, before Hearts opened the scoring against the run of play, just before the break. Hearts were awarded a corner kick in controversial circumstances when Thomson turned the ball behind after appearing to have been fouled by Hamill. Jamie Walker sent a dangerous ball into the six yard box and Ngoo’s header was cleared from the line by Tom Taiwo, but Darren Barr was able to scoop the loose ball into the net.
In the 47th minute, Alex Harris was brought down 25 yards from goal, and Leigh Griffiths curled an inch perfect free kick into the top right hand corner of the Hearts net to give Hibs a well-deserved equaliser.
Hibs almost took the lead moments later when Harris beat Kevin McHattie on the right wing before firing a low cross along the face of goal which Griffiths just missed.
With Hibs playing the better football, Hearts always looked dangerous at set pieces as both sides pressed for a winner.
With seven minutes remaining Walker was booked for an outrageous dive inside the penalty box as Jordan Forster prepared to tackle him.
In the 89th minute, Hibs grabbed a sensational winner when Griffiths chased down to block a Hamill clearance, and the ball fell to Scott Robertson who found Caldwell 15 yards from goal. The youngster took his time before curling a fantastic effort into the top right hand corner of the Hearts’ net to the delight of the fans in the Roseburn Stand.
Caldwell had another chance in time added on but McDonald saved his shot.
After the game Pat Fenlon said: “It’s probably the best derby there’s been (this season).There was a lot of football played in it and I thought we were very, very good today. I said to them at half-time to go and win the game, not to go out and just try a get a point, and we did that. Young Alex [Harris] was different class. Ross [Caldwell] scored a goal to finish and he has a great record here at under- age level. Jordon Forster was different class at centre-half because he’s come up against two big lumps today and he’s dealt with them really well.”
“They’ve taken a lot of flak for a long time particularly after the cup final last year. We haven’t won here for a while. It’s the first time in 11 or 12 years we’ve gone unbeaten against Hearts in a season, so they’re entitled to enjoy it. We’ve had our nose rubbed in it a bit over the last few years so it’s payback for them.”
Hearts: MacDonald, Barr, Webster, McHattie, Hamill, Stevenson, Taouil (D. Smith 80′), Walker, Holt (g. Smith 91′), Sutton, Ngoo (Carrick 73′). Substitutes not used: Ridgers, McKay, McGowan, King.
Hibs: Williams, Hanlon, Maybury, Forster, Claros, Stevenson, Taiwo, Harris, Thomson (Robertson 80′), Griffiths, Caldwell. Substitutes not used: Murdoch, Donaldson, Deegan, Wotherspoon, Doyle, Handling.
Referee: Steven McLean.