Motherwell 0 – 3 Hearts
Phil McGhee at Fir Park
It was another midday kick-off in the rain in front of the live televised game at Fir Park and for the second consecutive Saturday it was the referee who dominated TV replays.
In a situation very similar to Scott McDonald’s red card the previous week, Motherwell found themselves victims of strict refereeing, when Andrew Dallas controversially sent Carl McHugh off for a robust but fair tackle seven minutes into the second half.
That handed Hearts, who had failed to make much of an impression until then, an extra man and Motherwell’s bad luck was compounded within minutes of the red card when the Tynecastle side took a fortunate lead through Alex Tziolus’ wickedly deflected shot. Two goals from Esmael Goncalves in the final six minutes left Hearts with a flattering scoreline and a hard working ‘Well side a heavy defeat they didn’t deserve.
Scott McDonald’s two-match suspension meant a start for Lionel Ainsworth. There was also a starting place for on loan defender Zak Jules, who formed a central back three with Stephen McManus and Ben Heneghan.
After six minutes McHugh’s terrific cross field pass found Richard Tait free to whip in a cross which Louis Moult met but as his header crashed of the cross bar the belated offside flag prevented any chance of a follow up.
That was virtually Tait’s last contribution as a challenge on Goncalves after 17 minutes cost the full back a booking and his place as he limped off to be replaced by Jack McMillan.
A dipping drive from Don Cowie and a Jamie Walker shot into the side netting gave notice of Hearts’ goal threat. It took until the 28th minute, though, for Craig Samson to make his first save, low to his left to bundle Maluary Martin’s bouncing free kick round the post.
Having been penned in their own half for most of the opening 45 Motherwell had a couple of chances to break the deadlock before half-time.
Firstly from Stevie Hammell’s inswinging corner Jack Hamilton’s palmed clearance fell in front of Ainsworth and his half volley sped past the stranded ‘keeper only to be cleared off the goal line by Avlonitis.
Two minutes from the break, ‘Well were gifted a chance courtesy of the referee. As Moult raced on to a loose ball at the edge of the box he tripped over Ainsworth’s outstretched leg.
Amazingly, Andrew Dallas not only awarded a free kick but booked the innocent Martin.
Moult saved the ref from further embarrassment when he curled the free kick just beyond Hamilton’s left hand post.
The Fir Park side made a bright start to the second half and after a great burst forward, Jules released Cadden on the right but as Moult waited at the back post his cross was cut out by the Hearts’ ‘keeper.
However, a bizarre six minutes gave Hearts the advantage and left Motherwell facing an uphill task.
For the second consecutive Saturday ‘Well found themselves harshly reduced to 10 men. Carl McHugh was clearly committed to his tough tackle with Don Howie. And after clearly winning the ball he caught the former Scotland internationalist, but it was difficult to see how McHugh could avoid contact.
Reduced to 10 men for almost final 30 minutes, Mark McGhee made a double substitution bringing on Lee Lucas and Stephen Pearson for his third debut in Motherwell colours.
However, before either could contribute the Steelmen were dealt a double blow when the Tynecastle side opened the scoring. There was little danger as Alex Tziolis tried his luck from 25 yards until his fierce drive deflected off the closing down Lasley, sending the ball spiralling high over Samson before dropping under his bar.
Eight minutes later Lasley came within inches of an equaliser when he met a headed clearance 20 yards in front of goal and his controlled volley steered the ball through a packed defence and narrowly past the wrong side of the post.
With Pearson driving from the middle of the park and Cadden pushing down the right wing Motherwell continued to take the game to the visitor’s goal.
And 12 minutes from time Pearson’s sprint into the centre of goal was almost rewarded but Cadden’s cross drifted over the midfielder.
Motherwell were still pressing for a deserved equaliser until six minutes from time they were caught on the counter attack. Pearson and Lucas had possession at the edge of the Hearts’ box but when the Edinburgh side raced to the other end Goncalves swept the ball past the exposed Samson to make it 2-0 and kill the game.
The ‘Well ‘keeper then denied Goncalves a second brilliantly blocking at his feet. But when a tiring Jules lost out to Choulay at the corner flag, his cross was drilled home by Goncalves and gave Hearts a rather flattering scoreline for their efforts.
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 0 – 3 Hearts #MFCvHMFC
90′ | 0-3
Three minutes added on
88′ | 0-3
Goal – Choulay wins the ball wide on the right and squares it to Goncalves who slots it past Samson.
86′ | 0-2
Goncalves could have sealed it as he broke clear again but Samson stands up to it and makes the stop.
84′ | 0-2
Goal – Hearts counter and when Choulay plays in Goncalves, he slides it in past Samson.
MATCH ATTAX | Young ‘Well fans can vote now for your Man of the Match. Tweet us with your name, age, choice & #MatchAttaxMOTM.
78′ | 0-1
Cadden whips in a deep ball towards the head of Pearson but it’s just inches away from the midfielder!!
75′ | 0-1
Hearts sub, Nicholson on for Walker.
74′ | 0-1
Goncalves tests Samson with a low shot from the edge of the box but the ‘keeper makes the save.
68′ | 0-1
Goncalves hits it on the spin 10 yards out but he can’t hit the target. Dragged wide of the post.
64′ | 0-1
So close! Loose ball falls Lasley’s way but his low shot goes inches wide of the post!
62′ | 0-1
Hearts sub, Martin off for Kitchen.
59′ | 0-1
Goal – Tziolis tries his luck from range and it loops over Samson with the help of a huge deflection.
54′ | 0-0
Motherwell double sub, Hammell and Ainsworth off for Lucas and Pearson.
52′ | 0-0
Red card! McHugh shown the red! Was a firm challenge and got the ball but did catch the man on the follow through.
51′ | 0-0
Motherwell counter through Jules who sets Cadden free but he can’t find anyone with his delivery into the box.
48′ | 0-0
‘Well work the ball wide to McMillan but his low cross into the box is dealt with by the Hearts defence.
Lasley gets the second 45 underway. COYW!!!
Half time sub for Hearts, Choulay on for Johnsen
50-50 | The winning numbers are:
HT: Motherwell 0 – 0 Hearts #MFCvHMFC
43′ | 0-0
Martin booked for trip on Moult. Looked harsh to be fair. Free-kick to ‘Well 20 yards out….just wide by Moult!!
40′ | 0-0
Corner Motherwell…off the line by Avlonitis! Ainsworth had Hamilton beaten but the defender sweeps it clear.
39′ | 0-0
Gonvalves looked like he was going to break away from McMillan but Dallas’ whistle blows for handball against the frontman
33′ | 0-0
Walker booked for kicking the ball away after the whistle had gone. Daft one.
29′ | 0-0
From the resulting free-kick Martin forces Samson into a decent low save.
28′ | 0-0
Lasley booked for a trip on Walker 35 yards from goal.
17′ | 0-0
Best chance of the game there as Walker blasts into the side-netting from 10 yards!
17′ | 0-0
Motherwell sub, McMillan on as Tait limps off.
16′ | 0-0
Tait booked for pulling down Goncalves in the Hearts half.
14′ | 0-0
Walker dispossesses Jules 30 yards out but thankfully his shot from distance flies over the bar.
13′ | 0-0
Sowah does well and gets past Cadden down the left. Samson takes no chances and puts his low cross out for a corner.
6′ | 0-0
Close! Moult has a header off the bar! The linesman’s flag went up but the well striker was onside. Encouraging.
4′ | 0-0
Goncalves drags a shot just wide of the post from outside the box. Samson looked comfortable with it.
Andrew Dallas gets the game underway. COYW!!
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
Hearts manager Ian Cathro:
|Craig Samson||Jack Hamilton|
|(18) Richard Tait||Alexandros Tziolis|
|(54) Steven Hammell||Aaron Hughes|
|Ben Heneghan||Jamie Walker (75)|
|Stephen McManus||Anastasios Avlonitis|
|(54) Lionel Ainsworth||Don Cowie|
|Carl McHugh||Bjorn Johnsen (45)|
|Louis Moult||Andras Struna|
|Chris Cadden||Lennard Sowah|
|Keith Lasley||Esmael Goncalves|
|Zak Jules||Malaury Martin (63)|
|Dean Brill||Viktor Noring|
|Ryan Bowman||Krystian Nowak|
|Elliott Frear||Perry Kitchen (63)|
|(54) Lee Lucas||Sam Nicholson (75)|
|Craig Clay||Choulay (45)|
|(18) Jack McMillan||Faycal Rherras|
|(54) Stephen Pearson||Rory Currie|
|1||Shots on target||7|
|3||Shots off target||11|
|Referee: Andrew Dallas|