Heart of Midlothian 2-3 Motherwell
Saturday 14th September 2019, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts slipped to a one-goal defeat against Motherwell at Tynecastle on Saturday, with goals from Uche Ikpeazu and Ryotaro Meshino not enough to see off the Steelmen.
The Jambos were made to rue some slack defensive play as slick counter attacking from the visitors saw them punish Hearts on their home turf.
Craig Levein made three changes to the side that were held by Hamilton Accies a fortnight ago, with Conor Washington, Aidy White and Euan Henderson dropping out to be replaced by Ikpeazu, Jamie Brandon and Steven MacLean.
There wasn’t much to get excited about in the early stages of the match, with Jake Mulraney going close with a speculative effort on 18 minutes.
Motherwell responded a minute later when Declan Gallagher retrieved the ball at the edge of the box and tried his luck from distance, with Colin Doyle pulling off a stunning stop to tip the ball over, but that only denied Motherwell momentarily.
The visitors scored from the corner when Liam Polworth’s precise delivery was met by a bulleted header from Gallagher that flew beyond Doyle into the back of the net before the keeper had a chance to react.
The Steelmen came close again when Sherwin Seedorf beat Jamie Brandon on the wing and cut the ball back to Polworth but the midfielder’s curled effort went over the bar with Doyle beaten.
A piece of inspiration from Ikpeazu nearly drew Hearts level on the half-hour mark. The striker collected the ball down the left flank and used his trademark strength to bulldoze his way between two defender, before stretching to prod the ball to MacLean. The striker laid it back to Clare, but the midfielder took an extra touch and his weak effort was comfortably saved.
‘Well almost doubled their lead on 37 minutes after a swift counter attack. The ball was passed through to Allan Campbell, who slid a lovely pass between the Hearts defence for Devante Cole, but Doyle was out sharply to make a vital save and divert the shot wide for a corner.
The Steelmen came even closer a minute later when Liam Donnelly slalomed his way into the area and curled a superb effort off the crossbar before Seedorf tried his luck from 20 yards with his effort being comfortably held by Doyle.
Motherwell did double their advantage seven minutes into the second half, however, when Seedorf picked the ball up in midfield. The forward barrelled down towards goal before unleashing a stunning effort that cracked in off the underside of the bar.
The Jambos pulled one back on the hour mark when substitute Ryotaro Meshino made an immediate impact. Damour slid the ball through for Meshino, who cut the ball back and left his defender in his wake, before firing a shot at goal that was palmed into the air by Gillespie before Ikpeazu nodded home the ball on the line.
But that brief joy turned to anguish five minutes later. An innocuous ball over the top caught out Clare, now playing at right back, and Jermaine Hylton, subbed on just one minute prior, nipped in to place the ball past Doyle to add a third for Motherwell.
Hearts attempted to respond when Glenn Whelan found Meshino in space, with the Japanese star driving at the ‘Well defence and playing in Washington, now on as a sub, but his shot was well saved by Gillespie again.
The Jambos’ misery was compounded when Washington pulled up in agony after chasing down a long ball, leaving the pitch in some distress as Hearts were forced to finish the match with ten men.
Hearts were given a lifeline with five minutes to go when Meshino collected the ball 25 yards out, dribbled past two players and curled a brilliant shot into the far corner beyond the despairing dive of Gillespie.
Motherwell sub Chris Long had a chance on the break to finish the match when he raced past Halkett but Doyle again made a brilliant save to deny the visitors a fourth.
Hearts: Doyle; Brandon (Washington, 63'), Halkett, Berra, Hickey; Clare, Whelan, Irving (Damour, 50'), Mulraney; MacLean (Meshino, 55'), Ikpeazu
Subs: Zlamal, M. Smith, Keena, Morrison.
Motherwell: Gillespie; Grimshaw, Hartley, Gallagher, Carroll; Polworth, Campbell, Donnelly; Seedorf (Hylton '65), Scott (O'Hara, 77'), Cole (Long, 71')
Subs: Carson, Tait, Maguire, Mugabi.
Referee: Euan Anderson