Hibernian 1-2 Hearts: Aaron Hickey secures vital Edinburgh derby win for Craig Levein's side
By Allan Valente
Last Updated: 22/09/19 8:33pm
Aaron Hickey was the Hearts hero as his late goal secured a 2-1 win in the Edinburgh derby to pile the pressure on Hibernian boss Paul Heckingbottom.
The 17-year-old's deflected strike (84) gave his side the lead after Uche Ikpeazu (70) had cancelled out Stevie Mallan's wonder goal (47) in a frantic second half at Easter Road.
Both Heckingbottom and Craig Levein were under huge pressure coming into the game following poor starts to the season but Hearts' first win of the campaign takes them off the bottom of the league and lifts some of the scrutiny on their boss.
The same cannot be said of Heckingbottom, however, who watched his side squander a lead and drop to 11th in the table.
Hibernian: Maxwell (6), Naismith (6), Porteous (6), Hanlon (6), Stevenson (6), Vela (5), Mallan (7), Hallberg (5), Allan (6), Horgan (6), Kamberi (5)
Subs: Middleton (5), Doidge (n/a)
Hearts: Joel Pereira (6), Halkett (6), Berra (6), Smith (6), Hickey (8), Whelan (6), Damour (5), Mulraney (6), Clare (5), Meshino (7), Ikpeazu (8)
Subs: Dikamona (n/a), Morrison (5), Irving (n/a)
A drab first half failed to produce many clear cut chances but the home side went close when Mallan picked out Daryl Horgan's run down the left, with the midfielder continuing his surge into the box to collect the delivery but his effort was deflected just over by Glenn Whelan.
Jake Mulraney tried to carve out openings down the left for the visitors and Ryotaro Meshino, on loan from Manchester City, was a constant threat, but the end product let both sides down at times.
Heckingbottom made a big call by dropping Ofir Marciano and handing on-loan Preston goalkeeper Chris Maxwell a league debut, while Levein made four changes.
Goalkeeper Joel Pereira and right-back Michael Smith returned from injury, the latter lining up on the left of a back three, but there was no Steven Naismith as the influential forward battles a hamstring problem.
Both sides needed a touch of magic after the interval to liven up a tense affair and Mallan was to provide it almost instantly.
The midfielder picked up a loose ball around 35 yards out, with absolutely no pressing from Hearts, and he unleashed a great strike into the top left-hand corner.
Meshino tried to hit back instantly for the visitors but his effort from the edge of the box was easily saved by Maxwell as the game started to open up.
Hibs seemed energised by Mallan's goal and the noise from the stands but failed to make their momentum count. Melker Hallberg had a great chance to double Hibs' advantage but he snapped at his first time shot in the box when he should have hit the target.
Levein decided to introduce Andy Irving and Callumn Morrison from the bench in an attempt to change the game and Hearts started to build up a sustained period of pressure, forcing a flurry of corners in quick succession.
They found their equaliser with 20 minutes remaining when Ikpeazu used his sheer strength and determination to hold off two Hibernian defenders after getting on the end of Berra's knockdown before turning and hooking his effort past Chris Maxwell in the Hibs goal.
Meshino went close to giving Hearts the lead almost instantly but fired over the bar before Mallan was unlucky with a free-kick from the edge of the box.
Hearts completed their comeback with six minutes remaining, however. Ikpeazu held the ball up and waited for the run of Hickey whose shot clipped the trailing leg of Josh Vela and looped over Maxwell into the top corner.
Hibs had chances to equalise as Jason Naismith headed over before Rangers loanee Glenn Middleton danced his way into the Hearts box before being denied by Joel Pereira.
The hosts thought they had their late equaliser through substitute Christian Doidge but replays showed the forward had elbowed the ball out of the hands of Pereira after a corner which signalled their last chance of the match as boos rung around the stadium when John Beaton blew the full-time whistle.
Man of the match: Aaron Hickey
Uche Ikpeazu can feel hard done by after a tireless performance topped off by a goal and an assist but the 17-year-old just takes it after a special derby day winner. He never hid after Hearts went behind and was always keen to get balls into the box.
What the managers said:
Craig Levein: "I felt the pressure match was quite telling, I must compliment the players I thought we played well today.
"We didn't look nervous and I thought when we got the ball on the ground and passed it we looked the better side.
"If we hadn't come away with a victory I would have been bitterly disappointed.
"Up to the point of Stevie Mallan's goal, Hibs hadn't really troubled us, I'm beginning to think that they have scored a wonder goal and it's maybe not going to be our day.
"But all credit to the boys we kept battling away and they deserved the victory, and more importantly our supporters deserved the victory."
Paul Heckingbottom: "Questions have been asked, I'm hurting and lots of people are hurting, but we should be hurting.
"Very similar to what I said before the game in terms of what is going wrong, I should be standing here talking about a great little bit of quality from Stevie Mallan and some big performances from players but I'm not.
'I'm upset, angry and disappointed with the result that we've come away with.
"It's the same lack of killer instinct at one end and poor goals at the other."