Alan Burrows at Tynecastle
Motherwell made it back-to-back wins with a terrific 2-1 victory over Hearts at Tynecastle this afternoon.
Michael Higdon smashed in the opener after three minutes, and the Steelmen were in dreamland after eight as a Dylan McGowan own-goal made it two.
‘Well could and should have extended that lead before the interval but Hearts held out.
John Sutton brought the home side back into things on the hour with a poacher’s goal from a corner.
Gary Locke’s side saw plenty of the ball in the closing stages but never really threatened Darren Randolph’s goal.
‘Well boss Stuart McCall was forced into one change from the side that beat Celtic in midweek. Simon Ramsden picked up a knock and wasn’t risked, Tom Hateley slotted into his familiar right-back role.
The Motherwell manager will have sent his side out to try and stifle the early Hearts enthusiasm and, where possible, kill the crowd.
Even he couldn’t have wished for the start the Steelmen made!
Just three minutes were on the clock when Michael Higdon opened the scoring.
The mercurial James McFadden was the creator, turning inside McGowan and prodding it through for Higdon despite a scything Wilson tackle. It was a great advantaged played by referee Craig Thomson and Higdon slammed it under MacDonald with his left foot, his twentieth goal of the campaign.
It went from good to great for the visitors just five minutes later when a Dylan McGowan own-goal doubled the lead. Henrik Ojamaa turned on Higdon’s cushioned header for Nicky Law who had broke through the Hearts defence. MacDonald blocked the midfielder’s initial shot but the rebound was inadvertently turned into his own net by the young Aussie defender.
Shell-shocked, Hearts did their best to work themselves back into the match but were forced into long-range efforts from the edge of the area, none of which posed Darren Randolph any problems in the home.
In truth, Motherwell could and probably should have extended the advantage. The lethal Higdon even rounded MacDonald but the angle was too tight and his attempted cutback was hooked clear by the well-placed Webster.
Estonian Ojamaa also went past MacDonald in a foot race but was unable to take advantage in spite of good numbers in the opposition box.
Hearts’ only real chance of the first forty-five fell to on-loan Liverpool striker Michael Ngoo shortly after the half-hour mark.
The big striker did well to get on the end of a John Sutton knockdown but Randolph brilliantly turned his spin and shot round the post.
Two minutes later, one-time Motherwell target Ryan Stevenson might have performed better after getting a fortunate break off Hateley inside the area, but lacked composure and lashed the ball high and wide.
The Steelmen looked comfortable in the first fifteen minutes of the second half but were pegged back on the hour by former ‘Well hitman John Sutton.
Stuart McCall may have had cause to feel a little aggrieved though. The Motherwell boss was unhappy his team were not awarded a throw-in before substitute Arvydas Novikovas won and delivered the corner from which the former Fir Park favourite nodded home from close range.
That goal gave Hearts fans encouragement and the decibel level inside Tynecastle certainly increased. In truth though, the last half hour, for all Hearts possession, was fairly fruitless for the home side.
Randolph was rarely troubled at all. In actual fact, it was ‘Well who came closest with a neat turn and shot from Higdon was saved well by MacDonald.
‘Well managed to hold out for the three points and further consolidate their top-six spot. Another difficult away trip awaits next weekend with the long journey north to Pittodrie to take on Aberdeen.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Tynecastle
FULL TIME!!!!! Hearts 1 – 2 Motherwell
3 minutes added on
83mins: Higdon gets on the end of McHughs square ball. shoots straight at MacDonald!
80mins: Into the last 10 minutes, still 1-2 #nervy
77mins: Motherwell sub, McFadden off for Carswell
75mins: Hearts sub, King on for Walker.
71mins: Motherwell sub, McHugh on for Ojamaa
70mins: McFadden booked or dissent. Cummins with a fine block at front post to deny Sutton
66mins: Hearts manage to clear Law’s crossed free-kick just as Cummins was about to connect!
62mins: Hearts really pressing for the equaliser! ‘Well holding firm though.
57mins: GOAL , Sutton makes it 1-2 with his head
49mins: Ojamaa booked for simulation. Not sure about that!
Teams back out. Novikovas on for Tapping.
HT: Hearts 0 – 2 Motherwell
39mins: Hearts should have scored there. Stevenson blazed well over and wide from close range after Sutton’s knockdown.
34mins: Fantastic save from Randolph as Ngoo hit his shot on the spin just inside the box. Corner cleared too.
28mins: Higdon goes around MacDonald but the angle is too tight for a shot and his cut back is cleared by Webster.
Second was when Nicky law found some space in the box and at the second attempt stuck it in the net via McGowan
23mins: Looks like we’re back in action. Higdon’s finish was superb for the first! On his left foot into the corner after McFadden supplied
Very patchy signal on 3G and wireless. Still 0-2, Motherwell well on top.
Horrible Internet issues here! 2-0 Motherwell, Higdon and Law the scorers!
Game is underway!
Webster and Lasley lead the teams out on to the currently sun drenched Tynecastle pitch.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“It was a big result because it was probably the lowest I felt last Saturday, it just shows you the highs and low of football.
“We’ve bounced back, two gritty performance as much as anything and the table looks a little bit rosier now.
“All managers ask for a good start, it was important to start well. With Lockie in charge, I knew the crowd would be up for it.
“I was delighted with the start and then the pitch began to cut up. We played some good football and we knew it was always going to be a battle in the second half.
“Coming in 2-0 at half-time was great. They scored and they put a lot of balls in the box but we stood firm.”
Hearts interim manager Gary Locke:
“I think we can be pretty positive about the second half.
“I’ve told the players we can’t do that for 45 minutes, we need to do it for 90, especially with the run we’re going through.
“Certainly, the second half was more like the Hearts team we need to see at Tynecastle.
“We had stressed how important it was to come out of the traps and, if you do get off to a good start, the fans get right behind you.
“I was really disappointed at going two down so early. The great thing from my point of view is that it would have been easy for the players to put their head down and not react, but they reacted in the right manner.
“We changed a couple of things at half-time and I’ve said to them that the second half was the type of performance we’re expecting.
“We certainly have to work on one or two things in training but hopefully on Tuesday we can start the game better.
“If we play for 90 minutes like we did in the second half here, hopefully we can turn the corner.”