Honours even in Reserve League clash

18th December 2019

A late Connor Smith goal ensured a share of the spoils in yesterday’s SPFL Reserve League clash between Motherwell and Hearts, writes Bill Smith.

The Jambos fielded a young side, including five Under 18s regulars with another four on the bench, against a much older and experienced side at Broadwood Stadium.

Hearts began brightly with Sean Ward unable to keep a bouncing pass from Leeroy Makovora under control and shooting high over, and in reply Jamie Semple fired a free kick just over, while Christy Manzinga also had an effort clear the crossbar.

Kevin Silva was forced to save a Cole Starrs shot low at the post on 25 minutes, but towards the break Hearts had a good spell in the match with Smith and Cammy Logan both seeing fine shots saved, and Ward’s overhead kick creeping over the crossbar.

The hosts began the second half brightly with Silva saving a Manzinga shot for a fruitless corner, and on 55 minutes a header from Ross MacIvor clipped the junction of post and crossbar on its way past the goal frame.

On 62 minutes Hearts may have had a penalty kick when Smith appeared to be tripped in the box, but was booked for diving, and within sixty seconds Motherwell took the lead when MacIvor drilled a goal-line clearance into the net from 14 yards. The same player almost doubled his goal account minutes later with an effort that just cleared a post.

With 16 minutes remaining Hearts made a change that was to alter the flow of the play, and apart from a MacIvor header, dominated the closing stages. Smith had two fine shots brilliantly saved by Trevor Carson, as did Sub Jay King, before Smith equalised on the 90th minute with a superb 16-yard-shot into the bottom corner, to deservedly get Hearts back on level terms.

The point keeps Hearts second in the league table, six points off leaders Hamilton Accies but with a game in hand.

Motherwell: Carson, Tait (McDonald, 69’), Cornelius (Hutchison, 71’), Hussain, Devine, Maguire, Brown, MacIvor, Manzinga, Starrs (Robertson 64’), Semple. Subs not used: Hemphrey, Hale, Kettings, Williamson.

Hearts: Silva, Logan, Watson, Hamilton, Ritchie, Petkov, Moore, McGill, Makovora, Smith, Ward (Charleston-King).