Hibernian 1-1 Hearts: Uche Ikpeazu defies illness to score equaliser

Hearts scorer Uche Ikpeazu celebrates
Uche Ikpeazu picked up an early knock on his knee at Easter Road

Hearts Edinburgh derby goalscorer Uche Ikpeazu took ill shortly before kick-off but insisted on playing in the Scottish Premiership encounter, revealed manager Craig Levein.

The English striker's late goal secured a draw that keeps Hearts within three points of fifth-top hosts Hibernian.

As well as being ill, Ikpeazu also suffered an early knock on his knee.

"He was ill before the match as well, so I didn't know if he was going to be able to start," Levein said.

"All credit to him that he managed to stay on because he did look a little bit under the weather today, but he kept going, he constantly put pressure on the Hibs defence and he got his just rewards for it."

Levein was also "really happy" with substitute Steven MacLean's performance as he set up Ikpeazu to cancel out Christophe Berra's own goal.

Two 17-year-old midfielders - Connor Smith and Harry Cochrane - were brought into the side and Levein said it increased competition for places before next month's Scottish Cup final against Celtic.

"Putting Harry and Connor into the team has people on their toes, because there are only 11 spaces for the cup final and those two might stake a claim," he said.

"The two of them did very well considering the size of the game. I am really pleased with Harry and he showed some touches that tell us that he's going to be a really good player for us in the future.

"It was Harry's 30th appearance for us and he gets a place in the first-team dressing-room for us as well, so it was a good day for him."

'Hibs deserved more'

Hibs move four points behind fourth-top Kilmarnock and manager Paul Heckingbottom was disappointed his side had missed the opportunity to narrow the gap further.

The Easter Road side remain unbeaten in 10 league games since the Englishman became head coach.

"Sometimes you don't get what you deserve and I think today was one of those games," he said. "We took our foot off the gas when we wanted to keep being positive.

"We're still unbeaten, the boys are doing fantastic, and I'm pleased with lots of parts of the game, but we just had a chat there about one particular area where we really want to improve."

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