Motherwell U20s let slip a two-goal lead as Hearts came from behind to win 4-2 at a rain-soaked Tynecastle this evening.
The Steelmen raced into an early lead courtesy of goals from Axel Bossekota and Craig Moore which had Johansson’s men sitting pretty after seventeen minutes.
But a Billy King goal and an excellent hat-trick Jamie Walker gave the home side all three points – their fourth consecutive win in the Under 20s league.
The Claret and Amber men had an experienced starting eleven with Hollis, Kerr, Francis-Angol, Hetherington, Carswell, Daley and McHugh all having played for the first-team.
And that experience showed in the early stages as within the opening quarter, the visitors had raced into a two-goal lead.
Just seven minutes were on the clock when Bossekota got on the end of a well-worked Hetherington free-kick to flick past Mark Ridgers from close range.
The Congolese-born striker should have doubled his tally minutes later when he got on the end of a terrific McHugh pass inside the box. He cut inside his marker but with the full goal to aim at, somehow dragged his shot wide.
Hearts failed to heed the warning as shortly after, Craig Moore had made it two. McHugh was again the creator, this time slipping the ball into the young striker’s path and he took a touch to set himself before drilling it low under Ridgers.
The hosts looked stunned and took a bit of time to regain their composure before slowing but surely working their way in to the match. Their patient passing approach would pay off when Jamie Walker grabbed his first when he fired high past Lee Hollis from the edge of the area after a breathtaking passing move.
Hearts then laid siege towards the Motherwell goal but found Lee Hollis in good form. Indeed, for all the pressure, it was the Fir Parkers who should have restored their two-goal advantage on the stroke of half-time. Bob McHugh somehow managed to muscle his way through the Hearts defence but his low shot was somehow stopped by Ridgers from close range.
That would prove a crucial block as despite ‘Well notching a couple of half-changes at the start of the second period, it was Darren Murray’s men who got themselves level and went on to dominate the match.
It was Billy King who grabbed the leveller, getting on the end of a low cross from his brother Adam to slam into an empty net from about eight yards out.
At that point there appeared to be only one winner with maroon tails up. Hearts eventually got their noses in front with about half an hour left to play. Adam King was again the catalyst, bursting towards the by-line before turning over a dangerous cross that flicked off Gordon Smith kindly into the path of Walker who blasted home. There were a few Motherwell hands up for offside as the move started but replays show the Hearts right-back had timed his run to perfection.
The wind was taken completely out of ‘Well’s sails. Hearts had chances to extend their lead through Walker and Smith but neither could capitalise. Incredibly, it was Motherwell who passed up an excellent opportunity to level themselves.
McHugh and Carswell teamed up in the area but with neither taking the lead to shoot, it was left to Hearts defender McGhee who sliced it inches wide of the post with Ridgers rooted.
It was to prove the last real chance of note for the Fir Parkers as Hearts went on the rampage and only a superb showing from Lee Hollis kept the scoreline respectable. He made incredible saves from Smith (twice), Prychynenko (twice) and Nicholson.
He was absolutely helpless though in stopping the man of the match, Walker, from claiming his hat-trick. The midfielder was allowed to run and run before unleashing an unstoppable effort high into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.
It added an exclamation point to the home win which they probably deserved. Jonatan Johansson will have been frustrated at the way his side capitulated towards the end of the game. The Steelmen now face back-to-back home games and will need to pick up points soon to rescue what has been a fairly disappointing opener to the U20s season.
Motherwell: Hollis, Ashgar, Francis-Angol, Murray, Kerr, Hetherington (McCafferty – 46mins), Moore, Carswell (Leitch – 80mins), McHugh, Daley, Bossekota (Thomas – 65mins). Subs not used: Stewart, Green, Johnstone, Neill
Goals: Bossekota (7), Moore (17)
Booked: Daley, Asghar, Carswell