Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell emerged from a hard physical battle with three well-earned points from a solid team performance.
The Steelmen showed great determination responding to Kyle Lafferty’s opener, with first half goals from Ryan Bowman and Louis Moult. And while the former gave the Jambo’s defence a torrid afternoon and thoroughly deserved his first league goal, Moult’s sublime finish was a worthy winner and a terrific way to mark his 40th goal in claret and amber.
Following his impressive performance after coming off the bench last week, Bowman was given a starting place alongside Moult for the first time this season and on this showing It would be difficult to break up the pairing.
Trevor Carson, returning from suspension, had a couple of crucial saves – but following a routine save after three minutes play broke to the other end.
After out muscling Scotland defender Christophe Berra, Bowman’s ball into the box found Frear, but despite his goal bound effort rattling off Michael Smith’s arms, local referee John Beaton waved aside strong appeals for a penalty.
To be fair the referee also ignored Hearts’ claims after nine minutes when Bowman needlessly pushed Rafal Grzelak to the ground 12 yards from goal. The Hearts’ fullback was clearly aggrieved and when he blocked Chris Cadden’s promising break a minute later he earned himself the first yellow card of the afternoon.
With both sides exerting a physical presence, the flow of play was broken up until the 20th minute when ‘Well enjoyed their best spell.
Ben Heneghan’s long ball found Bowman’s head and after a neat exchange with Moult, the former Gateshead striker was denied the opener when Jack Hamilton blocked his angled drive.
A couple of minutes later, Bowman turned provider, feeding Andy Rose on the bye-line but his ball across the face of goal found no takers.
Then on the half hour and out of nothing the Edinburgh side opened the scoring. Kyle Lafferty was allowed to drift infield before rifling a low grounder just inside Carson’s right hand post from 30 yards.
That temporarily stunned the Fir Parker’s until they conjured up an equaliser eight minutes from half-time. Richard Tait’s deep cross found Moult beyond the far post and when he headed the ball back across goal, Bowman dived between two defenders to nod the ball beyond the ‘keeper.
Four minutes later, ‘Well were in front with an early contender for goal of the season. Frear laid the ball in front of Moult at the edge of the box and instinctively he curled the ball over Hamilton and under the ‘keeper’s bar for a superb finish.
That pulsating end to the first half continued after the break and after 57 minutes Jamie Walker carried the ball towards the home goal before unleashing a dipping drive, but Carson was his equal diving high to his left to finger tip the ball beyond his post.
Within a minute, ‘Well appeared to have extended their lead when Frear’s floated ball across goal was met by Moult and when he placed his header beyond Hamilton, the ball looked to have crossed the line before Berra headed it clear – but once again an assistant referee failed to signal a goal as play raged on.
As the midfield battle became more physical, Alan Campbell replaced Frear after 66 minutes.
The Fir Park side did have the ball in the net in the 74th minute but it was correctly ruled out. Cadden’s free kick found Heneghan and his header back across a packed goalmouth ended with Bowman forcing the ball over the line, but the ‘Well central defender was flagged offside.
Motherwell then doggedly protected their one goal advantage with Cédric Kipré and Carl McHugh outstanding in particular, allowing Hearts only one effort on goal – a curling shot from Walker which dipped over the bar.
Other than that ‘Well were in control as they made it two convincing consecutive home wins.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 2 – 1 Hearts
Big win for the Steelmen and thoroughly deserved!! COYW!!!
There will be two minutes added on
90′ | 2-1
‘Well break away but Fisher opts to hold up play and wins a free-kick out wide. Good play.
79′ | 2-1
And a Motherwell change, Moult off for Fisher.
79′ | 2-1
Hearts sub, Randall and Walker off for Moore and Buaben
77′ | 2-1
Walker is booked for pulling back Cadden.
74′ | 2-1
‘Well have the ball in the net after Heneghan nods Cadden’s cross across goal and Bowman taps it in but the flag goes up!
71′ | 2-1
Hearts have a free-kick in a good area after Kipré is booked for a foul on Walker.
67′ | 2-1
Motherwell sub, Frear off for Campbell
65′ | 2-1
Tait’s cross into the box is nodded past the post by Moult
62′ | 2-1
McHugh slides in Moult but Hamilton makes the shot while the offside flag is raised.
60′ | 2-1
Hearts sub, Stockton off for Goncalves
59′ | 2-1
Drama as Moult’s goalward header is cleared by Berra. Looked over the line but linesman not having it!!
57′ | 2-1
Superb save by Carson as he beats away Walker’s brilliant effort from 20 yards!
47′ | 2-1
Early corner as Rose’s cross is knocked out by Randall, Hearts break and Frear is booked.
Hearts get the second half underway. COYW!!!
HT: Motherwell 2 – 1 Hearts
Louis Moult’s 40th Motherwell goal gives the Steelmen the lead at the break.
42′ | 2-1
WHAT A GOAL!! Moult curls a beauty into the top corner from 20 yards. ‘Well back in front!!
37′ | 1-1
Bowman brings the Steelmen level heading home from Moult’s header back across goal!
30′ | 0-1
Goal – Lafferty fires a low shot past Carson from 25 yards to give Hearts the lead
22′ | 0-0
Rose gets on the end for Bowman’s header but from a really tight angle, can’t steer his shot on target.
21′ | 0-0
Best chance of the game so far as Bowman breaks clear of the defence but Hamilton parries his left-footed shot to safety.
10′ | 0-0
Grzelak booked for taking down Cadden as he broke free down the right.
4′ | 0-0
‘Well fans call for a penalty as the ball is fired off the Heart’s defender’s hand but it’s not given.
2′ | 0-0
From that corner the ball breaks to the edge of the box but Randall’s effort floats into Carson’s hands.
1′ | 0-0
Early corner for ‘Well but Hearts breakaway and Randall’s shot is deflected wide for a corner.
Cadden gets the game underway. COYW!!!
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:
Hearts interim manager Jon Daly