Motherwell U20s jumped above Hearts in the SPFL Development League with a deserved 0-1 victory this evening.
The Steelmen dominated the first half, creating numerous chances, but failed to get themselves in front in a fast-paced opening forty-five.
However, just after the hour, Ross MacLean netted what turned out to be the winning goal from close range.
The win moves ‘Well up to seventh place, joint on points with sixth place Rangers, the highest they’ve been all campaign.
Stephen Craigan was able to call on plenty of first-team experience against the Jambos. No less than seven starters have tasted action in the SPFL Premiership, including Wes Fletcher, Louis Laing, Joe Chalmers, Dom Thomas, Jack Leitch and others.
The Claret and Amber men started brightly, forcing a couple of early corners, but failed to get their noses in front.
The first real shot of the game came after ten minutes when Dom Thomas’ jinking run presented a chance for Robbie Leitch, only for his long-range effort to drop inches wide of target.
‘Well had a couple of tantalising crosses fly tease their way across the six-yard box without any takers, before Luke Watt came close to netting, only for his hard strike to take a nick off a defender to take it narrowly over. Fletcher headed the resulting corner wide.
It took Hearts until the 30th minute to really threaten when Robbie Buchanan capitalised on some hesitancy between Laing and Brett Long, but the young keeper redeemed himself to block wide.
‘Well replied with a Robbie Leitch shot well held by Jambos stopper Hamilton. A minute later, Ross MacLean’s deep cross to the back post found Thomas, but after jinking past his marker, his shot was blocked on route at the expense of a corner.
Thomas himself took the resulting kick, finding Louis Laing with a whipped near-post cross, but the defenders effort hit the bar before bouncing clear.
As the first half drew to a close, both Jack Leitch and MacLean got on the end of back post crosses, both neither could get any real connection and the chances were gone.
For all ‘Well dominated the first-half, the second half was a much more low key affair, with neither side creating much in the way of guilt-edge chances.
In fact, the first real action of the half resulted in the goal. Hamilton turned around Dom Thomas’ shot for a corner. When the ball eventually came over, Watt took aim and fired a low shot at goal. Hearts hadn’t got out in time, and it landed at Ross MacLean who had the simplest of tasks, turning and lifting it over the already grounded keeper into the net.
Hearts almost hit back quickly, when Buchanan found himself unmarked in the 18-yard box, but his downward header was straight at Long who saved.
Down the other end, the Leitch brothers combined well in the middle of the part to tee up Fletcher, but the former Burnley and York man scooped over.
‘Well had defended well all match and forced the home side to long range efforts and crosses from deep. One such free kick from Ian Smith almost deceived Long in the Fir Parker’s goal, but the keeper did well to turn it away after
That was the last of the action, but for a late Thomas shot in stoppage time, that Hamilton again did well to turn around for a corner.
Motherwell: Long, McMillan, Watt, Laing, Chalmers, Campbell, R. Leitch, J.Leitch, MacLean, Thomas, Fletcher (Mackin – 78mins)
Subs Not Used: Morrison, Moore, Turnbull, Maguire, Watters, Livingstone