Gavin McCafferty at the Fir Park
Craig Moore scored a spectacular goal seconds into his Premiership debut to start ‘Well’s comeback as the Steelmen edged out Hearts 2-1 at Fir Park.
The 19-year-old former Hearts Academy product fired the ball into the top corner from 22 yards within 20 seconds of coming off the bench midway through the second half at Fir Park.
The strike cancelled out Ryan Stevenson’s 62nd-minute breakaway opener and Shaun Hutchinson headed home with eight minutes left to secure Motherwell’s fourth consecutive home victory.
The entertaining first half followed a slow start to the game as Motherwell, who were without injured wingers James McFadden and Lionel Ainsworth, struggled to break down a Hearts side which pressed them quickly.
Hearts, who were missing left-back Kevin McHattie, set up in positive fashion with Jamie Walker and Stevenson playing up front and Callum Paterson and David Smith on either flank, but they struggled to get out of their half during the first period.
The first pieces of meaningful action were two penalty appeals for handball from the home side around the half-hour mark, the first when Jordan McGhee blocked an Iain Vigurs shot and the second when Danny Wilson appeared to move his hand towards Henri Anier’s cross.
Vigurs had a couple of long-range efforts and soon set up a better chance when he played John Sutton in through the left channel but the striker shot straight at MacDonald.
Hearts created the best chance of the half in the closing stages when McGhee’s pass sent Walker through as the Motherwell defence waited for an offside flag that never came. Gunnar Nielsen, who was making his home debut after Lee Hollis suffered an ankle injury, came out quickly to narrow the angle and block the shot before brilliantly touching over Smith’s close-range follow-up.
Motherwell stepped up a couple of gears after the restart. Sutton headed just wide before seeing another header tipped round the post by MacDonald.
Hutchinson met an Vigurs corner but his header was cleared off the line by Callum Tapping and Sutton hooked the rebound wide.
Scott Robinson came on for the injured Paterson in the 55th minute as Hearts moved to a 4-5-1 and they were soon under pressure again.
Anier had a shot beaten away by MacDonald after a pass by Keith Lasley, who soon drilled a 22-yard shot just wide following a half-cleared corner.
Motherwell were given warning before the opener when Stevenson had a shot saved on the break and Walker ran at the Motherwell defence before firing wide.
But they were caught short at the back when Robinson broke and played the ball out to the left wing for Stevenson, who had peeled off into space.
The forward ran into the box and fired a shot that nicked off Stephen McManus and beat Nielsen at his near post.
The game change with a couple of substitutions, Moore came on in the 67th minute along with Paul Lawson and it paid off instantly. The ball fell for Moore after a cross was cleared just outside the box and the teenager dispatched it in style, smashing a volley high past the goalkeeper after being on the pitch just eighteen seconds.
Motherwell pushed for a winner and it came after another Vigurs corner. Hutchinson made a near-post run to meet the inswinging delivery and headed powerfully down and over the line from the edge of the six-yard box.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 2 – 1 Hearts
90mins: 4 minutes added on.
85mins: Into the last 5 minutes then……. #nervy
81mins: Corner to Motherwell…….GOOOOAALLLLL! Hutchy bullets in a header to make it 2-1!!!
80mins: Final Hearts change, Nicholson on for Smith
76mins: Hearts sub, Holt on for Tapping
75mins: Motherwell sub: Anier off for McHugh
68mins: Just on the pitch and CRAIG MOORE unleashes a thunderbolt into the top corner from 25 yards! Brilliant!!
61mins: GOAL! Stevenson’s shot is deflected past Nielsen. 1-0 Hearts
56mins: Chances coming thick and fast now! Anier from a tight angle forces a good save then Lasley strikes just past from 20 yards
53mins: Hearts sub: Paterson limps off for Robinson
53mins: Good start to this half! Vigurs has a shot saved by MacDonald then Hearts break and Walker can only shoot straight at Nielsen
49mins: McManus and Hutchinson test MacDonald with headers. Should maybe be 1 up after that!
46mins: Stevenson and Walker get the second half underway.
HT: Motherwell 0 – 0 Hearts
44mins: Great double stop from Nielsen to deny Walker !! First one was a solid block, second one was a cracker to tip it over!!
37mins: Probably the best chance so far as Sutton latches on to Anier’s through ball buit on his weak foot fires tamely at MacDonald.
34mins: Another claim for handball after Anier’s flicked on header appeared to strike Hammill inside the box. Looked a decent shout.
31mins: Still 0-0. Hearts have a corner… Smith scuffs his delivery straight to Francis-Angol who clears.
28mins: First corner of the game goes to Hearts. Smith’s delivery is headed clear by Sutton… From that header, Francis-Angol sends Vigurs through on goal and as he cuts back in to shoot, claims that his shot hit a hand!
22mins: Nielsen had to be lively as he raced off his line to clear from Tapping with his knee.
18mins: McGhee does well to slide in and block Anier’s left footed shot. Was hitting the target.
10mins: Fairly even first 10 minutes. Very little in the way of good chances though.
2mins: First decent chance of the game falls to Sutton. He can’t direct his header goalwards from Lasley’s cross, though.
1min: Lasley and Carswell kick the game off.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
Hearts manager Gary Locke:
“It’s a hard one to take. I seem to be saying the same things every week.
“I certainly felt we played well enough, playing against a really good side and we more than matched them for 90 minutes.
“We went a goal ahead and at that stage I thought we were playing well, passing the ball well and getting the ball forward well. We looked really dangerous on the counter-attack.
“There is nothing you can do about the first goal, it’s probably the best substitution Macca [Stuart McCall] will make all season, the boy comes on and first kick of the ball, 30 yards, top corner.
“But I’m disappointed with the second one, we have got to defend corners better than that.”