It was a tale of two goalkeepers this afternoon as Craig Gordon and Matt Macey produced their brilliant best to ensure the first Edinburgh derby of the season finished goalless.
Both 'keepers made a string of stunning saves throughout a breathless contest that saw both teams give their all and enjoy periods on top.
It was a fast and furious contest but with no goals in the game the points were shared. We remain undefeated and sit in second place in the cinch Premiership.
Captain Paul Hanlon returned to lead out the side this afternoon for his 35th Edinburgh derby and he was joined in the starting XI by fit again Joe Newell and Chris Cadden.
Cadden’s return was his first outing in five months and he was a welcome addition, particularly as the side were without Jake Doyle-Hayes, who was unwell and not part of the matchday squad. New signing Nathan Wood was amongst the substitutes.
The opening was as frenetic as always in this fixture with both teams looking to impose their game plan on their opponents.
We started with a back five with Cadden and Josh Doig operating as wing-backs and it was the former that carved out the first opportunity of the game when he swung in an inch perfect cross for the normally clinical Kevin Nisbet, however on this occasion he failed to make a clean connection and the chance was lost.
Hearts had their first effort on goal on 14 minutes when Ben Woodburn ran onto a Gary Mackay-Steven lay-off and this shot from the edge of the box fizzed over Macey’s crossbar.
We appeared the more likely side to make an early breakthrough and almost grabbed it in unlikely circumstances as Newell’s cross drifted over Gordon and back into play off the crossbar.
As if to highlight the incredible pace and openness of the contest, Hearts immediately raced up to the other end of the park with Liam Boyce getting his head to a Ben Kingsley cross and the ball dropping onto the roof of Macey’s net.
The noise inside Tynecastle was incredible and perhaps caused Craig Halkett to lose his bearings when he attempted to head back to Gordon unaware Martin Boyle was lurking. Fortunately for the defender his goalkeeper was alert to the danger and made a brave save.
Hearts would then go onto enjoy their best period of play in the first half and won a series of corner kicks.
As they put our defence under pressure Kingsley had an effort cleared at the near post by Nisbet, Mackay-Steven saw a powerful shot beaten away by Macey and Halkett headed just over from another corner kick delivery.
We were never out of it and remained a potent threat at the other end of the park and on 33 minutes a wonderful strike from Martin Boyle, full of power, was kept out by an equally impressive acrobatic save from Gordon.
With half-time looming Mackay-Steven had a good chance to notch a goal only to slice his half-volley well wide of the target.
In the dying seconds of the first half Boyle brilliantly rolled away from Beni Baningime and drove towards the Hearts box before letting fly with an angled effort that Gordon touched past the post with his fingertips.
It was a wonderful save from the Scotland goalkeeper who was denied the plaudits for it with the match official awarding a goal kick.
We replaced James Scott with Alex Gogić during the interval to add a greater presence in the middle of the park.
On 59 minutes a poor pass from John Souttar - intended for Michael Smith - was pounced upon by Kyle Magennis and his angled drive drew yet another save from Gordon.
Seconds later Hearts should have broken the deadlock when Woodburn threaded a fine ball into Mackay-Steven who had only Macey to beat but the towering goalkeeper produced a wonderful save to thwart him.
Macey needed to be at his best again seconds later when Mackay-Steven let fly with another effort at goal that took a deflection off Josh Doig, the goalkeeper again getting down smartly to push it past the post at the expense of a corner kick.
Hearts made changes bringing on Barrie Mckay and Josh Ginnelly and they linked up on 72 minutes when the former’s cross found the head of the latter and Macey was well positioned to save at his near post.
Having weathered a bit of pressure from the hosts, we would then go on to enjoy our best period of the game.
With 15 minutes remaining Gogić collected a Boyle cut back and from the edge of the box he smashed a powerful strike that fizzed beyond Gordon and just wide of goal.
Then, Gordon was called into action to make another big save when Magennis’ angled drive from Nisbet’s cut back was arching towards the far corner of the net; the shot stopper getting down smartly to push the ball away.
We kept the pressure up and from Cadden’s flick on Nisbet’s volley on the turn flashed inches wide of goal.
Hibs were finishing the match strongly and looked the more likely to find a goal, however with two minutes remaining we almost conceded when the ball ricochet off Hanlon and Macey had to react quickly to push it over the crossbar with his fingertips and spare his team-mate's blushes.
In the final moments Nisbet, Magennis and Gogić were all denied by wonderful saves from Gordon as we piled on the pressure and the Hearts goalkeeper produced heroics to prevent his side losing.
The points shared in the end after a fast and furious match, perhaps the fairest outcome in a derby that lived up to expectations and entertained throughout.
Heart of Midlothian: Gordon, Smith (Moore 66’), Kingsley, Souttar, Haring, Baninigme, Woodburn (Mckay 70’), Boyce, Mackay-Steven (Ginnelly 62’), Cochrane, Halkett. Substitutes not used: Stewart, Devlin, Halliday, Gnanduillet.
Hibernian: Macey, Doig, Hanlon, Porteous, McGinn, Magennis, Boyle, Newell, Nisbet, Scott (Gogic 46’), Cadden (Wright 87’). Substitutes not used: Dabrowski, Wood, Gullan, Allan, McGregor.
Referee: Nick Walsh.