Hearts went down 1-0 to Motherwell in Saturday’s Ladbrokes Premiership encounter.
Lionel Ainsworth’s first-half strike was enough to separate the two sides and keep all three points at Fir Park.
Robbie Neilson made four changes to the side that clinched European football in Inverness eleven days ago; Callum Paterson and Liam Smith replaced Blazej Augustyn and the suspended Juwon Oshaniwa, while Sam Nicholson and Prince Buaben came in for Miguel Pallardo and Dario Zanatta.
Hearts went close after seven minutes. Buaben bravely won the ball in the middle of the park before sending Jamie Walker clear down the right. He cut inside into the box before curling an effort that flew inches wide of Craig Samson’s right-hand post.
The Jambos registered another shot on target just before the quarter hour mark. Juanma prodded forward to Walker, who beat his man to the byline to cross into the box and when the ball was cleared it fell to Buaben who hit a half-volley into the arms of Samson.
The deadlock was broken in the 28th minute, courtesy of the home side. A throw in was worked inside to Ainsworth, who turned and shot low from the edge of the area, beyond Neil Alexander and into the bottom corner of the net.
Motherwell threatened again soon after, with Marvin Johnson getting on the end of Ainsworth’s flick on, but he dragged his effort from 20-yards well wide of the target.
Hearts attacked from the off at the beginning of the second half, with Buaben twisting and turning at the edge of box before finding Smith unmarked, but his shot was placed straight into Samson’s arms.
It was nearly 2-0 after 59 minutes. Louis Moult sprung the offside trap to advance through into the box, but although his low drive had Alexander beaten, it knocked the post on it’s way wide.
Five minutes later it really should’ve been 2-0. Buaben was caught in possession at the back by Scott McDonald, who then had the goal at his mercy, but he proceeded to balloon his effort well over the bar.
Samson was then at his best to deny Hearts an equaliser. Nicholson’s corner was met by Paterson, who pulled off an impressive half-volley, but the Motherwell ‘keeper pounced to his left to make a stunning block on his line.
Neither side really threatened the other’s goal until the 82nd minute, when Johnson showed great skill to turn away from two white shirts and drive low on target, forcing Alexander into a save at his near post.
Hearts bombarded the Motherwell final third in the closing stages but could not find that elusive goal.
Motherwell: Samson, Hammell, McManus, Ainsworth (Chalmers, 82'), Johnson, Lasley (Leitch, 46'), Kennedy, Law (Hall, 39'), Moult, Cadden, McDonald. Subs: Ripley, Thomas, Watt, Campbell.
Hearts: Alexander, Paterson, Ozturk, Souttar, L. Smith, Nicholson (Dauda, 67'), Kitchen, Djoum, Buaben (Cowie, 79'), Walker, Juanma (Reilly, 79'). Subs: Hamilton, Augustyn, McGhee, Pallardo.
Referee: Andrew Dallas
Top man: Perry Kitchen