Match Report: Hearts 3-2 Motherwell11 June 2022
A double from Andy Halliday left Hearts in prime position before Louis Moult and Blair Spittal set up a nervy ending with Jorge Grant also off for Hearts with a straight red for a sliding challenge on Callum Slattery.
In the dying minutes, Lawrence Shankland buried the penalty that sent the Hearts support into raptures.
Lining up in a 4-3-3 formation - the back four in front of Craig Gordon was made up of Michael Smith, Alex Cochrane, Toby Sibbick and Andy Halliday. The midfield three saw the returns of Cammy Devlin and Robert Snodgrass to the eleven, whilst Jorge Grant kept his place after an impressive display against Istanbul Basaksehir the previous Thursday. Up front was a three of Josh Ginnelly, Barrie McKay, and Lawrence Shankland.
Hearts fashioned the first good chance. Some dogged pressing from McKay and Snodgrass in the middle of the park eventually saw the ball threaded across to Andy Halliday in the middle – our number sixteen sending an effort that flashed narrowly wide of Liam Kelly’s goal.
A teasing cross from Josh Ginnelly saw the next big opportunity go agonisingly close. After tearing down the right wing, Gino played the fast ball into an oncoming Lawrence Shankland. After taking a touch to bring it down, he blasted at Kelly from close-range, with only some impressive reaction goalkeeping from Motherwell’s number one keeping Hearts at bay.
Andy Halliday, in fine form for the Jambos, again drove at Motherwell’s goal. A cute reverse pass from McKay sent him on his way through to goal. After getting his sights lined up, he opened fire, with another cracking save from Kelly denying the men in maroon once again.
Despite crafting mountains of opportunities, a combination of Kelly saves and poor shooting saw Hearts struggle to prise through the Fir Park men’s back line. Shankland bringing down a bungled Kelly clearance before feeding Cammy Devlin, who had two pops at goal before it went out of play, summarised Hearts’ struggles, and hard luck in front of goal.
There was a twist in the tale before the first half was through, with Hearts reduced to ten men after Jorge Grant was flashed a straight red card for a sliding challenge on Motherwell midfielder Callum Slattery. The two were contesting a loose ball, with Grant appearing to have caught Slattery late attempting to win it. Referee Kevin Clancy oversaw a VAR check, with replays deeming it that the decision should stand.
It did little to knock Hearts’ confidence, and the Jambos soon raced into the lead to sign off the first 45 on a high. Robert Snodgrass sent a fine corner into the mixer, with Andy Halliday producing a second, fantastic header within the space of a week! Lying flat on his back, he was soon mobbed by his teammates as Tynecastle roared with delight.
HALF-TIME: HEART OF MIDLOTHIAN 1-0 MOTHERWELL
Almost straight from the off, Hearts doubled their lead, and there were no surprises who bagged it. Barrie McKay buzzed about the Motherwell area, probing for an opening. He had a dig, with the deflected ball landing at Halliday’s feet. Showing real skill, he curled a low ball past Kelly into the bottom left corner. Against the odds, Hearts were two to the good at Tynecastle.
Motherwell pulled one back on the hour mark in controversial circumstances. Craig Gordon threw himself down at the feet of Louis Moult to try and halt him – with Kevin Clancy judging him to have fouled the Motherwell striker. After a brief VAR check, the decision stood. Moult stepped up and sent Gordon the wrong way to set up a nervy second half in Gorgie.
Minutes later, the visitors thought they had a second. Kevin Van Veen crashed into the area and slammed the ball past Gordon, but after yet another lengthy VAR check – the assistant referee called it to be offside in the build-up.
After a great deal of persistence, Motherwell were back on level terms with ten minutes left to play. A low cross was swept into the path of Blair Spittal who dived in to slide the ball past Gordon and pull the game back to 2-2.
With hope diminishing, it seemed that Hearts would have to settle for a point. Not quite, there was yet another twist in the tale of this fascinating contest still to come. Cochrane launched a cross into the area, with the ball bouncing off the hand of a Motherwell man.
A penalty was awarded, and Lawrence Shankland stepped up to send Liam Kelly the wrong way, and hand Hearts a delicate lead with five minutes of added time to come. The returning Kye Rowles was thrown on to shore up the defence with just added time to go.
In sensational fashion, and after a Motherwell barrage, the Jam Tarts held on to secure a massive three points!
Hearts: Gordon, M. Smith, Grant, Shankland, Devlin, Halliday (Neilson 76’), McKay (Rowles 90’), Cochrane, Sibbick, Ginnelly (Atkinson 76’), Snodgrass
Subs: Clark, Kiomourtzoglou, Atkinson, Rowles, Forrest, Neilson, Henderson, C. Smith, Pollock
Motherwell: Kelly, Lamie, Spittal, Slattery, Van Veen, Solholm, McGinn (O’Donnell 20’), McKinstry, Penney, Goss, Shields (Moult 55’)
Subs: Oxborough, O’Donnell, Mugabi, Maguire, Cornelius, Moult, Morris, Tierney, Miller