Lewis Irons at Tynecastle
Motherwell slumped to a 3-0 loss at Tynecastle this afternoon against a ruthless Hearts side who ultimately took their chances.
The Steelmen were unlucky not to score though, with as much as FOUR goal-bound efforts cleared off the line in agonising fashion for the Fir Parkers.
A brace from Bjorn Johnsen and a neat finish from Jamie Walker punished Motherwell on a cold and sunny afternoon in the capital.
‘Well boss Mark McGhee named an unchanged line-up from the side that overcame Partick Thistle 2-0 at Fir Park last week, while Robbie Neilson on the other hand named four changes to his side after they drew 3-3 against Hamilton on Monday night.
Tony Watt, Prince Buaben, Liam Smith and Alim Ozturk were replaced by Igor Rossi, Faycal Rherras, Arnaud Djoum and Robbie Muirhead – but it was top scorers Jamie Walker and Callum Paterson who looked the most dangerous in the opening exchanges of the match.
The two looked to combine and cause problems down the right flank but it was a surging run from Walker which led to the midfielders first shot on target. Cutting in on to his right foot the Hearts number seven forced a routine save from Craig Samson after two minutes and proceeded to test the ‘Well keeper twice more in the following four minutes – but almost identical strikes from the midfielder left Samson making comfortable saves.
Motherwell failed to create anything in the opening fifteen minutes as Hearts peppered Samson’s goal and after 16 minutes the game came to a brief standstill.
A head-knock between Ben Heneghan and Callum Paterson left both on the floor requiring treatment. The Hearts defender was allowed to stay on the pitch despite his gushing wound and nasty looking bump above his eye as Heneghan was bandaged up on the sidelines.
But it was Paterson who was withdrawn from the action nine minutes later – Heneghan meanwhile was fine to carry on and play the full 90 minutes.
Hearts deservedly took the lead but it came from a loose touch in the Motherwell midfield. Johnsen was quick to burst beyond the Claret and Amber defence and latch on to a neat through ball before the tall centre-forward rounded Craig Samson and rolled the ball into an empty net.
Just two minutes later, Johnsen was celebrating again but the linesman’s flag cut the party short as the goal scorer had strayed offside before looping his header into the far corner.
That scare seemed to spark the Steelmen in to life as a looping ball into the Jambos box was knocked on by Heneghan, but it flashed across the goalmouth untouched and out for a goal kick.
The tall, bandaged centre-back was involved in front of Hearts goal just minutes later but this time his attempted header from a Richard Tait free kick soared over the bar.
Louis Moult and Scott McDonald were allowed to link-up five minutes before the break after a slack John Souttar pass gifted Motherwell a chance. The recovering Jam Tarts defence did enough to put pressure on the attackers and block Moult’s effort at goal.
On the stroke of half time Craig Samson produced a fine save to deny Hearts a second goal and keep the deficit down going in to the interval.
McGhee made two changes as he brought off Jack McMillan and David Ferguson for Lionel Ainsworth and Stevie Hammell and matched the home side with a 4-4-2 shape.
The break didn’t change things though as just four minutes in to the second half Hearts went two up.
An in-swinging corner was headed low past Samson by Johnsen for his second of the game and it looked as though Motherwell’s hopes of a comeback were crushed.
However, the Fir Parkers responded well and a strong 20-minute spell in the second half should have led to a goal for the visitors.
A header on target from McDonald was cleared off the line by Rherras before the defender, still on the line, somehow denied Heneghan immediately after.
Substitute Ainsworth fired an ambitious effort narrowly wide of the post from 30-yards as the Steelmen pushed to find a way back in to the game, but soon after Hearts made it three.
Ainsworth’s free-kick was cleared and Hearts hit the Steelmen on the break, Walker providing the low neat finish to a swift Hearts counter as Robbie Neilson’s side all but secured the three points.
In the final five minutes of the match, Motherwell were denied a further two times by goal-line clearances. The first a hooked Souttar clearance after Ainsworth’s dink bounced towards the line and the second a decent clearance from Rherras to deny Moult his seventh goal of the season.
But Hearts held on for their clean sheet and Motherwell left feeling somewhat deflated, yet still sitting in the top six of a compact Ladbrokes Premiership.
[tab:As it happened]
Lewis Irons at Tynecastle
FT: Hearts 3 – 0 Motherwell #HMFCvMFC
89′ | 3-0
That’s now a fourth chance cleared off the line! Moult with a free header, swept away by Rherras
86′ | 3-0
Ainsworth is sent clear but Souttar manages to retreat and clear his chipped shot off the line.
75′ | 3-0
Hearts sub, Currie on for Cowie
74′ | 3-0
Sammon squanders a great chance to make it 4, dragging his shot wide of the target from 15 yards.
68′ | 3-0
Hearts sub, Johnsen makes way for Sammon
66′ | 3-0
Goal – Hearts breakaway and Walker finishes it off with a low shot past Samson.
65′ | 2-0
Motherwell sub, Hastie on for Cadden.
64′ | 2-0
Ainsworth’s powerful low shot from 30 yards fizzes inches wide of the post.
51′ | 2-0
McDonald’s header is cleared off the line by Rherras. Seconds later he is there again, this time denying Heneghan!!
49′ | 2-0
Goal – Hearts go two up, this time a header by Johnsen from a corner.
Motherwell get the second 45 underway. COYW!!
Double change at half-time for Motherwell, Hammell and Ainsworth on for Ferguson and McMillan.
Seconds before the whistle blew, Samson had a great save from Rossi’s header, clawing it off the line!
HT | Hearts 1 – 0 Motherwell #HMFCvMFC
45+1′ | 1-0
Souttar booked for a shirt pull on McDonald. Can have no complaints there.
Three minutes added on.
44′ | 1-0
Ball over the top is squared by Johnsen to Djoum 12 yards out but he curls his shot over the bar.
41′ | 1-0
Great chance for Moult as a slack pass allows him and McDonald to combine on the edge of the box but the defence recover to block.
38′ | 1-0
Tait whips in a free-kick from the right which is met by Heneghan but he can’t get his header on target.
35′ | 1-0
Chance! Looping ball into the box is knock across goal by Heneghan but no takers!
34′ | 1-0
Johnsen has the ball in the net again with a fine looping header but the linesman’s flag is thankfully up!
32′ | 1-0
Goal – Johnsen is slid through and cooly rounds Samson before slotting into the empty net. 1-0 to Hearts.
26′ | 0-0
Hearts sub, Paterson off for Smith. Has quite a nasty looking bump just above his eye.
25′ | 0-0
Decent chance for Hearts there. Long throw into Johnsen whose flicked header is just wide of the post.
23′ | 0-0
Paterson fires wide of the post, seconds after being told to leave the pitch and get a blood injury attended to!
21′ | 0-0
‘Well still down to ten men, and Hearts almost capitalise. Johnsen is slid in but blazes over from a narrow angle.
Both will need further treatment on the sidelines. Heneghan will return wearing a bandage, no doubt.
16′ | 0-0
Hearts have the first corner of the game…Heneghan and Paterson compete and both go down with head knocks.
From the free-kick, Walker drills it straight into the wall and Rherras fires well over the bar.
9′ | 0-0
Rherras shows good feet to get past Tait and the Motherwell man is booked for impeding his run into the box.
6′ | 0-0
Hearts work a throw-in from the left which releases Walker inside the box. His attempt on goal is again matched by Samson.
2′ | 0-0
Walker again tests Samson, with an effort very similar to the first, with the same outcome. Save Samson.
1′ | 0-0
Walker tests Samson almost immediately with a bouncing effort from distance. Probably going wide but Samson gathers anyway
Djoum gets the action underway for the Jambos. COYW!!!
Out come the two sides at a packed Tynecastle. Usual colours for both teams…
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
Hearts Manager Robbie Neilson: