A brave performance from the Motherwell U19s wasn’t enough to secure a point as Hearts ran out 1-0 winners at Bathgate today.
After a fairly even first half, Hearts came out the traps in the second half and within a minute had taken the lead through Jason Holt.
To compound matters for the Steelmen, Ross McKinnon was ordered off two minutes later for what was adjudged to be a two-footed tackle.
Despite being down to just ten men, Young’s men battled hard but couldn’t get the equaliser despite one or two wee half chances in and around the box.
‘Well, plagued by injuries and players unavailable, were forced into two changes from last week’s humiliation at the hands of Rangers. Liam Sloan and Bradley Halsman were injured and missed out, replaced in the starting eleven by Michael Lynch and Keiran McGachie.
Gordon Young had to do without Tom Bradley (First Team), Jamie Pollock (First Team) and Grant Brown (Injured) whilst he was unable to call on the services of some of his Under 17s players, meaning only two players made the bench – Chris Connor and Dean McLean.
‘Well started with a slightly different 4-4-2 with a diamond in midfield, Steve Howarth at the top playing just in behind McGachie and top scorer Lee Erwin.
However, it was the visitors who would dominate much of the opening thirty minutes.
Calum Patterson posted early intentions with a driving shot that flashed just wide of the post with Willie Muir at full stretch. Shortly after, Captain Colin Hamilton knocked a header narrowly over and David Smith’s fired a low effort straight at Muir as Darren Murray’s side looked to gain an early advantage.
However, for all their possession and half chances, the ‘Well rearguard rarely looked threatened and, indeed, as the first half wore on, ‘Well were gradually becoming more of an attacking threat.
The danger was coming from the right flank and with eight minutes left until the interval, ‘Well could and perhaps should have gone ahead. Erwin did well to win possession and he wasted no time threading a neat ball towards McGachie who had run the channel. The return ball across the face was a little over-hit from the former Stenny man meaning Erwin didn’t have a clean strike at goal and his effort was comfortably blocked by Hearts stopper Jack Hamilton.
Two minutes later, Josh Watt created space for himself on the right flank with a neat dash but his cutback looked dangerous only for the lurking McGachie to slip at the vital moment; the ball cannoning off him and dropping fortuitously in the hands of Hamilton.
Finely poised at the interval but a mad three minutes at the start of the second half would eventually decide the game. Inside the opening sixty seconds, Jason Holt picked up from deep and after bouncing a lovely one-two off a striker; he collected the return, opened his body and fired beyond Muir into the net for the games’ only goal.
The task of getting level was made virtually impossible when a frustrated Ross McKinnon was sent off for a two-footed tackle two minutes later.
That forced Young into a reshape with players asked to up their work rate and, to be fair to the young ‘Well side, they did and matched Hearts for the remainder of the half.
However, a man less killed the game as a contest as the Claret and Amber men were forced to contain their opponents and hit on the break.
Hearts almost doubled their advantage with seventeen minutes left on the clock when a neat corner by Jordon Morton presented Scott Robinson with a chance to strike from the edge of the area but the midfielder was unfortunate to see his stinging effort come smashing back off the crossbar.
Motherwell introduced Chris Connor in place of McGachie and the winger gave Motherwell some additional legs on the flanks and, despite some sniffs in and around the area, it just wouldn’t fall to a ‘Well player in the right area.
The whistle eventually blew and although the Claret and Amber men sank to their fourth successive defeat, Gordon Young would’ve been pleased with the reaction he got following last week’s humiliation at Murray Park.
Motherwell: Muir, Griffin, McKinnon, Murray, Lynch, Carswell, McDonald, Watt, Howarth (McLean – 82mins), McGachie (Connor – 74mins), Erwin
Subs Not Used: None