Heart of Midlothian 2-0 Motherwell
Saturday 2nd October 2021, KO 15:00 | cinch Premiership | Tynecastle Park
Hearts headed to the summit of the cinch Premiership after a hard-fought victory over Motherwell at Tynecastle Park this afternoon.
First-half goals from Liam Boyce and Stephen Kingsley earned the Jambos another three points to continue their stunning start to the league campaign.
Robbie Neilson named an unchanged side from the team that comprehensively saw off Livingston last week, with John Souttar still not quite ready to retake his place in the squad.
Hearts got off to the best possible start in four minutes. Beni Baningime played a neat pass forward for Barrie McKay, who reversed the ball through for Liam Boyce. Motherwell keeper Liam Kelly came out to close the angle but tripped Boyce, who put the ball on the spot and scored, sending Kelly the wrong way.
Motherwell looked dangerous on the break, but so did Hearts, and the quick feet of Baningime and Cammy Devlin in midfield were keeping the Steelmen’s midfield three at bay. It was the quick feet of Baningime that led to the second goal for Hearts, after a neat little stepover on the edge of the area, Beni was tripped crudely, and Stephen Kingsley made Motherwell pay with a stunning free kick into the top corner to make it 2-0 on 22 minutes.
The visitors had their first effort on goal on 32 minutes, when Kaiyne Woolery brought down a long kick from Kelly and hit a fiercely struck effort at goal from 20 yards which was deflected wide. From the corner Juhani Ojala headed over the bar.
On 37 minutes, Ben Woodburn threatened to take the roof off Tynecastle. Michael Smith, fantastic in his inverted full-back role, found Woodburn on the edge of the area. He set himself, and fired at goal with Kelly tipping the ball over.
Right on half-time, Motherwell went direct with the ball falling to Tony Watt 25 yards out from goal, with his stinging half-volley tipped over the bar by Craig Gordon. From the corner, Bevis Mugabi’s header was held by Gordon at the second attempt.
Into the second half, and Hearts were on the front foot again. Smith fed Boyce down the right, with Boyce passing into the area for Devlin who dragged his shot just past the post. Ten minutes into the second half, Hearts had a chance to kill the game when Devlin was tripped in the area, but Kelly saved the spot kick from Boyce.
Motherwell broke up the other end, with Woolery bursting through on goal but Gordon produced a super save to deny the forward, diving low to his right. Hearts almost had a third again shortly after when Baningime turned the Motherwell defence inside out in the area, but Kelly produced a stunning stop to deny the midfielder a first Hearts goal.
Craig Halkett had been replaced prior to the Baningime chance after going down with a knock, and his replacement nearly grabbed the third. Hearts overloaded the penalty area, and a Barrie McKay cross was cleared to Andy Halliday who volleyed past the post.
Stephen O’Donnell had a chance for Well with 15 minutes to go, when he found space in the area but shot wildly past the post when a ball across the area was the option. The gaffer brought on Peter Haring to shore up things in the midfield which had gotten slightly ragged at this point with Motherwell pushing hard to get back into the game.
The last chance of the match fell to the visitors, with O’Donnell swinging in a deep cross that was headed towards goal by Ojala, but Scotland’s number one denied the defender, tipping his effort over the bar.
Hearts: Gordon, Moore, Halkett (Halliday '56), Kingsley, Smith, Devlin, Cochrane, Baningime, Boyce, Woodburn (Mackay-Steven '69), McKay (Haring '81). Subs not used: Stewart, Walker, Ginnelly, Gnanduillet.
Motherwell: Kelly, O'Donnell, Mugabi, Ojala, McGinley, O'Hara, Slattery, Grimshaw (Amaluzor '76), Watt, Woolery, van Veen (Shields '82). Subs not used: Fox, Lamie, Crawford, Maguire, Carroll.