Motherwell 1-0 Heart of Midlothian
Saturday 7th December 2019, KO 15:00 | Ladbrokes Premiership | Fir Park
Hearts were defeated in a closely fought match in a downpour at Motherwell’s Fir Park in this afternoon’s Ladbrokes Premiership match.
The Lanarkshire side came out on top thanks to a first half goal from Chris Long, with Jake Mulraney seeing red late on for the Jambos.
Austin MacPhee made three changes to the side that secured a late draw midweek against Livingston at Tynecastle, with goal hero Steven MacLean coming into the side for the injured Steven Naismith, while there were also returns to the side for Joel Pereira and Ryo Meshino.
The Jambos began the match brightly, and on the front foot, and had the best chance of the match after a quarter of an hour. Following a corner won through the endeavour of Mulraney, Glenn Whelan curled in a cross that Michael Smith rushed to meet, but took a fresh air swipe at the ball from 12 yards, allowing Motherwell to break away but Chris Long ended up running the ball out of play at the other end of the park.
Despite a tight opening to the half, with Hearts breaking well and showing composure in midfield, the home side took the lead with five minutes to go before the interval. Jamie Brandon overcommitted and missed an interception, then Jermaine Hylton got the beating of Craig Halkett down the Motherwell left, cut the ball back for Long and he finished emphatically into the top corner with his left foot to give Motherwell the advantage, against the run of play.
Motherwell came out of the traps flying in the second half and nearly doubled their lead two minutes in, when a swift breakaway saw Long slide the ball wide for Hylton, with the winger cutting in onto his right foot and shooting, but fortunately the deflection spun the ball wide of Pereira’s right hand post, for the concession of a corner that came to nothing.
The Jambos came close to levelling the scoring ten minutes into the second half, when Jamie Walker curled in a superb cross for Halkett, who nodded the ball down at the edge of the box for Meshino, and the Japanese let fly with his left foot but saw his stinging drive go just over. Moments later, Meshino again tried his luck from distance after sub Uche Ikpeazu set him up, but he shot straight at Mark Gillespie when perhaps a pass was a better option.
They came even closer on 68 minutes after a counter attack, when Whelan slipped a ball through to Meshino, with the Japanese stepping over it and letting the ball run through to MacLean, but Gillespie produced an excellent save to push away the striker’s effort and keep his side in the driving seat going into the last twenty minutes.
Motherwell then thought they had the game wrapped up when Long took Halkett wide down the right wing and skinned him, before cutting the ball back to Liam Polworth who shot towards goal, but in a moment of madness, Allan Campbell touched the ball in on the line when in an offside position, and the assistant referee’s flag went up to disallow the goal.
At the other end, Brandon had a glorious chance to level the match. Whelan spread the play wide to Mulraney who whipped in an early ball that was headed out to Brandon, the full back took a good touch but then rushed his effort and shanked the ball high and wide beyond Gillespie’s goalposts. Ikpeazu then tried his luck when he collected the ball on the edge of the box, turned and shot, but his curled effort went just wide of the post.
Despite throwing on Aidan Keena and Craig Wighton for the latter stages, the Jambos were unable to find an opening to break through the Motherwell rearguard, and left Fir Park with nothing to show despite a decent showing, as well as seeing Jake Mulraney dismissed in stoppage time for an off the ball incident to compound the day’s misfortune.
Motherwell: Gillespie, Carroll, Grimshaw, Campbell, Long (Hartley, 75'), Hylton, Scott (Cole, 65'), Polworth (O'Hara, 85'), Donnelly, Mugabi, Gallagher. Subs: Carson, Tair, Seedorf, MacIver.
Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, Clare, Walker (Ikpeazu, 57'), Mulraney, Whelan, MacLean (Wighton, 85'), Brandon, Halkett, Meshino (Keena, 85'). Subs: Silva, Bozanic, Dikamona, Irving.
Referee: Alan Muir