Saturday’s thrilling Edinburgh Derby had a distinctly Australian flavour as former Central Coast Mariners boss Nick Montgomery extended his unbeaten start as Hibernian manager to five games with a come-from-behind 2-2 draw at Hearts.
Six Australians (Cammy Devlin, Kye Rowles, Calem Nieuwenhof, Jimmy Jeggo, Lewis Miller, Martin Boyle) started the stirring and fiery encounter in the rain at Tynecastle Park, with A-Leagues greats Montgomery and Adam Le Fondre also involved.
Hearts skipper Lawrence Shankland set the tone for the clash early on, receiving the first booking of the match after just four minutes after a late challenge.
Devlin followed him into the book shortly after he professionally fouled his Socceroos
teammate Martin Boyle following a brilliant run.
Hearts were the more dangerous of the two sides in the opening period and they took a deserved lead into half-time thanks to Alan Forrest’s stunning left-footed strike into the top left corner.
Montgomery demanded a response from his side at the break, and he got it – eventually. When Alex Lowry’s driving run forced an own goal to double Hearts’ lead, it looked like curtains for the former’s unbeaten run.
Step forward Elie Youan.
The French forward, who Montgomery hailed post-match as a potential Champions League player, scored twice in 82 seconds to send the Hibernian fans into raptures and earn his side a share of the spoils.
“Elie’s a fantastic player, he could play at the highest level no doubt, but he needs to be more
consistent and he knows that,” Montgomery said.
“I told him at half-time we needed more from him because he’s a player that can win you a game of football.
“There were too many who weren’t good enough in the first half and Elie was definitely one of them but when I asked him to step up he certainly did.
“He gets two goals and we need that from him for 90 minutes, not for 45. If only the game was 45 minutes he would probably be playing in the Champions League.”
Socceroos defender Kye Rowles almost won it for Hearts late on, but his deflected effort struck the crossbar.
His Hearts manager Steven Naismith was left to rue a disastrous 90 seconds among what was a solid 90 minutes that ultimately cost his side the three points.
“It’s disappointing. We’re frustrated and annoyed because we get ourselves in a good position. One-and-a-half minutes has cost us, that’s ultimately it. Our defending and decision-making was poor,” he said.
“We’ve given two goals to the opposition when they haven’t really had to work for it. It’s poor game management. When it’s on a knife’s edge, you need a cool head. Couple of moments today we’ve slipped up on that.”
Among the Australians, Miller and Boyle played the full 90 minutes for Hibernian, while Jeggo was withdrawn after 78 minutes.
Miller was called up to the Socceroos squad for the first time in his career off the back of some solid form for Hibs, where he will have the chance to make his maiden appearance in Green and Gold against either England or New Zealand in the coming fortnight.
Montgomery – who coached Miller at the Mariners prior to taking over as Hibs boss – was quick to praise the full-back, but said he needs to continue to perform at this level with a host of players breathing down his neck at club level.
“I’m really happy for Lewis,” he said post-game.
“It’s been a long time coming, but he’s also needed to have that consistency and that’s something that he struggled with.
“He didn’t play for a long time, didn’t really play much last season and I always said to him, if you can find a consistency and you can find the right mindset to make sure that every game you perform and he’s not up and down and that’s what he was in his early career, but there’s no doubt in his ability as a physical specimen.
“He’s technically very good, it’s just his concentration that he needs to keep working on because at times he gets caught up in the emotion and arguing and silly things like that.
“But again, I’ve told him he needs to do the same thing. Otherwise he’ll be coming off and he knows that Chris Cadden’s coming back fit soon and young Rory Whittaker, so he needs to keep performing otherwise there’s going to be people chasing for his spot. That’s the way you have to talk to Lewis.
“But I’m really, really happy for him and hopefully he can go away this week and get some minutes against England next weekend.”
Meanwhile, Nieuwenhof and Rowles saw out the full match, with the latter shifted to left-back following a first-half injury in the Hearts defence. Devlin was given 72 minutes on his return from a knock.