Motherwell 2-0 Heart of Midlothian19 February 2023
Robbie Neilson made two changes to the side that defeated Hamilton in the Scottish Cup last weekend. The suspended Josh Ginnelly and Jorge Grant were replaced by Lawrence Shankland and Cammy Devlin.
It had been an uneventful start at Fir Park and Stephen Humphrys was the first player to try his luck for the Jambos. Michael Smith found himself in acres of space on the right and his low pass found the Hearts forward, who fired over from the edge of the box.
Hearts had been nowhere near their best in the opening half hour and the home side had probably shaded the early exchanges, without testing Zander Clark.
Shankland had returned to the starting line-up after missing out through suspension last weekend and he almost opened the scoring on the half-hour mark after good play from Robert Snodgrass, who after winning a duel on the edge of the Well box, hung up a perfect cross for Shankland to attack, but the number nine saw his header come off the foot of the post.
The home side took the lead seven minutes from the interval. Clark had produced a brilliant save to deny Sean Goss from the edge of the box but from the resulting corner, Jon Obika was on hand to steer home from close range.
Stephen Kingsley almost restored parity with the final action of the half, but his free-kick from 25 yards clipped the top of the crossbar.
HALF TIME: Motherwell 1-0 Hearts
The Steelmen doubled their lead in the opening minute of the second half when Blair Spittal flicked Kevin van Veen’s cross onto the post and was then the quickest to react to bundle the ball in on the rebound.
Toby Sibbick almost halved the deficit after 56 minutes. James Hill flicked on a corner from the left and Sibbick was waiting at the back post, but Liam Kelly did well to deny him.
Half-time substitute Jorge Grant was next to try his luck with a sweet volley from distance, however, it was straight down the throat of Liam Kelly.
Hearts continued to huff and puff but a route back into the game continued to evade them as the home side saw the game out to secure the three points.
Motherwell: Kelly, Johnston, Casey, McGinn, Furlong, Butcher, Goss, Cornelius, Spittal, Van Veen, Obika
Subs: Oxborough, O’Donnell, Mugabi, Slattery, Crankshaw, Danzaki, Aitchison, McKinstry, Tierney
Hearts: Clark, Smith (Atkinson, 60), Kingsley, Shankland, Devlin (Grant, 46), McKay, Cochrane (Oda, 78), Sibbick, Humphrys (Kuol, 60), Hill (Forrest, 60), Snodgrass
Subs: Stewart, Grant, Kio, Atkinson, Rowles, Halliday, Forrest, Kuol, Oda