Hearts vs Hibernian | Saturday 31st October October 2020, 17:00 | Premier Sports
The first of the belated semi-finals from the 2019/20 season take place on Saturday at Hampden, facing-off are the two fierce Edinburgh rivals.
Now playing in the Championship, Hearts were only able to get their season started on the 6th October. In that time though, they have managed three League Cup wins and two league triumphs. Undoubtedly the pick of these wins was the 6-2 Tynecastle demolition of (title second favourites) the defensively wide-open Dundee – where the Gorgie boys were absolutely rampant.
However, in their most recent league match, although scraping an ugly 1-0 victory away to Arbroath, it was very much the equivalent of a ‘how will you fare on a wet and windy night in Burnley' type introduction to this league. If truth be told, Hearts only deserved a draw at best on the night.
Hibs kicked off their Premiership campaign at the beginning of August, suffice to say they have had a superb start, currently sitting third in the table – Jack Ross has overseen a W10-D3-L2 in the initial League and League Cup matches. The only two defeats coming at the hands of the champions at Celtic Park, and a narrow 1-0 loss at home to Aberdeen.
Robbie Neilson will be relying on main striker Liam Boyce to do some damage to a well-drilled Hibees defence. Craig Wighton could also get a start, especially as promising wide-men Josh Ginnelly and Jordan Roberts have been injured. Veteran Steven Naismith who has not been in the team in recent games, may have to make do with a place on the substitutes bench for this one.
Hibs have, for me, the edge with stronger options in attack – Kevin Nisbet has taken to the top league like a duck to water, scoring seven times in 10 matches. Christian Doidge has also been a great foil for the prolific youngster.
The pacey Martin Boyle should also thrive with the big wide-open spaces of the national stadium pitch. With his impressive tally so far this season and the fact he is also on the penalties, the 11/2 with Bet365 to score first is maybe worth an interest.
The man in the middle
The appointed referee for this battle of these two Edinburgh giants, is experienced arbiter Willie Collum. Some of his stats:
- In his 7 League matches so far this term he has produce – 4y/ 4y/ 4y 1r/ 4y/ 2y 1r/ 4y / 3y.
- In his last 29 matches of last season he brandished the red card in 7 of them (24%).
So as you can see, this ref is fairly consistent with his use of either colour of card. As seen with another five yellow cards and a red in Prague on Thursday night in the Europa League.
With guys like Ryan Porteous, Alex Gogic, Craig Halkett and Andy Halliday on the field, there could be some meaty challenges going in all over the pitch. Add in, that it's these old deadly, derby rivals in a high-stakes winner-takes-all encounter, both trying to reach a Scottish Cup final – so there is a good chance it could get a bit lively and tasty.
With a traditionally card-happy referee in charge, I suggest 4-6 cards in the match is worth a go, which is 11/10 with William Hill.
A head-scratcher for me all week, has been the various odds compilers opening gambit on the outright odds market. Some opened with the Jam Tarts as slight favourites – that seems to have been rectified now. Whilst it should be a tight semi-final, the team that sit third in the Premiership should, in my eyes, be good enough to reach the final.
If the match did happen to go into extra-time – I'd expect the fact one team have been playing for three months, the other only week weeks, to show with these squads and their fitness. Hence Hibernian 9/10 with BetVictor to qualify for the final, appeals.
Hearts vs Hibernian – Kevin Nisbet to score first (11/2 Bet365)
Hearts vs Hibernian – 4-6 cards in the match (11/10 William Hill)
Hearts vs Hibernian – Hibs to qualify (9/10 BetVictor)