Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell bounced back from two consecutive defeats with a comfortable win over bottom side Hearts.
Two first half goals from Iain Vigurs and Lionel Ainsworth settled Stuart McCall’s side before John Sutton and James McFadden added two more in the second to wrap up the three points.
Amidst all ‘Well’s injury problems, with Stevie Hammell the latest to join the long list on the treatment table, Lee Hollis returned to goal after missing 19 games. Jack Leitch made his first start with Stuart Carswell making way.
With James McFadden replacing Henri Anier in attack, Motherwell pressed the visitors’ goal for the opening spell.
Lionel Ainsworth forced the first save from Jamie MacDonald after nine minutes when his deflected shot was palmed over the bar by the Hearts’ ‘keeper.
Zaine Francis-Angol then cut the ball back for Sutton but although his shot also took a deflection, MacDonald reacted well to push the ball away.
The pressure finally paid off in the seventeenth minute with a well-worked goal. A smart double 1-2 with McFadden sent Vigurs through the visitors defence and from 12 yards he toe poked the ball into the ‘keeper’s left hand corner.
A slip from the experienced Danny Wilson gave Ainsworth half a chance but he drilled his shot into the side netting.
The winger made up for that after 36 minutes, though, with a stunning strike to claim his seventh goal of the season. McFadden did well to keep the ball in play and hoist it to the far side of the box, where Ainsworth took one touch before unleashing an unstoppable drive into the top left hand corner.
Hearts young team found it difficult to cope with the tempo of Motherwell’s pressing game in the first half and the game might have been beyond them three minutes after the restart. Vigurs showed some great footwork inside the box before slamming a right foot shot just wide of the post with MacDonald helpless.
With Hollis still to make a save, the home goal had anarrow escape in the 50th minute when Sam Nicholson’s angled drive flashed past the ‘Well ‘keeper only to rebound off the face of the crossbar.
Back came ‘Well and after Leitch fired a grounder from the edge of the box straight at MacDonald, the home side came close to a third when McFadden’s header across goal rebounded off Sutton carrying the ball just over the crossbar.
The Hearts’ goal had a closer escape in the 62nd minute. McFadden sent Leitch through and when his shot was partially blocked by the ‘keeper’s legs the ball rebounded to Ainsworth on the six-yard line but his net bound finish was brilliantly blocked by Kevin McHattie.
The Fir Parkers finally grabbed the third after 65 minutes. McFadden’s shot was blocked by Callum Paterson at the edge of the box but the ball rolled in front of Sutton whose shot trundled over the line for his 15th of the season.
The lead was reduced three minutes later when Paterson got above the ‘Well defence to nod home McHattie’s corner.
The three goal advantage was restored after 73 minutes though, McFadden was rewarded for a great afternoon’s work when he rose to backhead Vigurs free-kick beyond MacDonald to make it 4-1.
Having given Leitch his first ninety minutes and with Euan Murray getting an hour when he replaced Francis-Angol, McCall gave Chris Cadden his first team debut seven minutes from time.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 4 – 1 Hearts #MFCvHMFC
1 minute added on #MFCvHMFC
87mins: The sun is coming out for the final few minutes. Been a very entertaining game, plenty of action #MFCvHMFC
82mins: Motherwell sub, Cadden on for Ainsworth #MFCvHMFC
80mins: Motherwell sub, Lasley off for Carswell #MFCvHMFC
79mins: Hutchinson goes on a mazy run and wins a free-kick right on the edge of the box. McGowan booked #MFCvHMFC
76mins: Paterson booked for pulling back Vigurs. Free-kick in a good area…Leitch volleys over! #MFCvHMFC
75mins: MCFADDEN makes it 4-1 with a flick on header from Vigurs’ delivery!!! #MFCvHMFC
70mins: ‘Well break and Vigurs gets plenty of space in the box. Can only shoot straight at MacDonald though! #MFCvHMFC
69mins: GOAL! Hearts pull one back through the head of Paterson #MFCvHMFC
67mins: Hearts sub, McCallum & Robinson off, Holt & King on #MFCvHMFC
65mins: SUTTON makes it 3-0! McFadden burst though and the ball broke to Sutty who tapped it home from 12 yards! #MFCvHMFC
63mins: Another great chance! Leitch drilled in a shot which was saved. Fell to the feet of Ainsworth who saw his shot somehow blocked!
60mins: Lasley swings in a great cross which is flicked on by McFadden. Sutton can only knee it over the bar from 10 yards! #MFCvHMFC
59mins: Hutchinson is booked. From resulting free-kick, Hollis comes and gathers with ease #MFCvHMFC
56mins: Lasley sets up Leitch on the edge of the box but his shot is straight at MacDonald #MFCvHMFC
54mins: Wilson’s header clear falls to the feet of Lasley who tries a first-time volley. Not a bad effort, not on target #MFCvHMFC
50mins: Nicholson cuts in from the left and his right footed shot crashes off the bar! #MFCvHMFC
49mins: Vigurs drags his shot just wide from 12 yards, great chance! #MFCvHMFC
48mins: Corner to ‘Well…..Leitch’s shot is swept clear by Hamill #MFCvHMFC
Second half underway #MFCvHMFC
Hearts make a half-time change, Carrick on for McKay #MFCvHMFC
HT: Motherwell 2 – 0 Hearts #MFCvHMFC
1 minute added on #MFCvHMFC
42mins: McFadden with a great chance at the back-post. Heads it wide from Ainsworth’s deep cross in #MFCvHMFC
39mins: From the free-kick, Hutchinson rises well and nods it just past #MFCvHMFC
39mins: Wilson booked for a challenge on McFadden #MFCvHMFC
37mins: AINSWORTH makes it 2-0 with a superb drilled shot into the top corner from 18 yards! 2-0 #MFCvHMFC
33mins: Motherwell sub, Francis-Angol limps off for Euan Murray #MFCvHMFC
27mins: Free-kick from 25 yards drilled just wide by Stevenson #MFCvHMFC
22mins: Ainsworth gets in a good position to get a shot away but he kicked more of the ground and MacDonald gathers easily #MFCvHMFC
20mins: Corner to ‘Well…….Ainsworth’s front post delivery is gathered by MacDonald #MFCvHMFC
18mins: It’s a cracker from VIGURS who plays a one-two with McFadden and pokes past MacDonald. 1-0 #MFCvHMFC
14mins: Vigurs and Francis-Angol link up superbly down the left creating a chance for Sutton, who sees his shot parried away #MFCvHMFC
12mins: Ainsworth wins a corner…..McFadden meets his delivery but it’s deflected wide for another corner #MFCvHMFC
10mins: Great effort from Ainsworth whose volley is deflected and tipped over the bar by MacDonald #MFCvHMFC
6mins: Corner to Hearts swung in by Hamill to the head of McKay who nods it wide #MFCvHMFC
3mins: First bit of action for Hollis. Comes out well and gathers Stevenson’s cross #MFCvHMFC
McCallum and Robinson kick-off the action #MFCvHMFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
Heart of Midlothian manager Gary Locke: