IT was maybe just as well that Sky Sports were forced to pull the plug on their ground-breaking plans to have Hibernian manager Nick Montgomery “mic’d up” in the Edinburgh derby at Easter Road last night.

The Englishman had warned that viewers should be prepared to hear some “industrial football language” when the move – which was scuppered when IFAB pointed out to that Law 4 prohibits the use of electronic communication in the dugouts unless it “relates to player safety or is for coaching reasons” – was announced last week.

Montgomery would have turned the air blue early on in the cinch Premiership match when referee John Beaton awarded Hearts a penalty after watching a replay on the pitchside monitor and ruling that Hibs defender Rocky Bushiri had handled inside his own area.

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Lawrence Shankland, the leading scorer in the Scottish top flight in the 2023/24 campaign with 10 goals, would doubtless have let slip a few expletives of his own when he struck the outside of the post from 12 yards out as well.

As would his Hibs counterpart Martin Boyle just 10 minutes or so later when he had a spot kick - which Beaton gave the hosts when a Dylan Vente shot struck the arm of Kye Rowles just a few yards in front of his goalkeeper Zander Clark – palmed onto the upright.

The Herald: But the chances are high any swear words would have been drowned out by the adulation and abuse which rained down on the players on the pitch from four packed stands from before kick-off until long after the final whistle.

There may not have been a great deal of attractive, free-flowing, entertaining football played in Leith. Hearts defender Frankie Kent summed it up when he was asked for his assessment of the first half by Sky reporter Luke Shanley as he made his way to the dressing room. “A bit hectic, not much quality,” he said.

There could, though, be no faulting the atmosphere in the stands during 90 frenetic minutes. It was a festive cracker.

Commentator Ian Crocker alluded to fact that Hibs had given the entire South Stand to 4,000 of their opponents’ fans before hostilities commenced. “We have fierce city rivals, we have pride and passion, we have a full house . . . and we have away fans,” he said as the teams emerged from the tunnel. 

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It was a subtle reference to the ongoing stand-off between the Celtic and Rangers hierarchies over the allocation of away tickets at their encounters – and the fact the next instalment of the Old Firm game at Parkhead on Saturday will once again not have any travelling supporters in attendance.

As the action raged from one end of the park to the other and both sides squandered opportunities to break the deadlock, the decibel levels inside the ground got louder and louder.

The Herald: “The two clubs getting their heads together and allowing decent away support at the Edinburgh derbies is certainly adding to the occasion,” said Crocker.

“It’s a shame it’s not like that everywhere,” said his sidekick Chris Sutton, the former Celtic striker who is a veteran of numerous showdowns with Rangers over the years.

It is to be hoped the high heid yins at Ibrox and Parkhead, who have been squabbling over how many away fans get in to their world-famous encounters since Rangers decided to slash Celtic’s allocation from the traditional 7,000 to just 900 back in 2018, were sitting at home watching on television.

The Glasgow derby is of a superior standard to the Edinburgh version. But it is a diminished spectacle without any away fans cheering on their heroes. Something is badly wrong when a goal is greeted by silence. It is also to the detriment of the league as a whole that a game which is beamed around the planet is played out in such strange circumstances.

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It was not nice to see missiles being thrown at Hearts players Alex Cochrane and Stephen Kingsley by Hibs supporters as they were taking throw-ins or smoke bombs being hurled onto the turf. But by and large the fans supporters were the stars of an Edinburgh derby which was high on endeavour but low on excellence.  

Shankland made amends for his penalty miss when he fired a spectacular winner into the top corner in the third minute of injury-time with his weaker left foot. The Hearts fans behind the goal raised the roof. If Rangers triumph at the death in the East End of Glasgow this weekend you will be able to hear a pin drop. 

The Herald: