Hearts fell to a 2-0 defeat against Motherwell in their opening Reserve League game at Forthbank today.
An even encounter for the majority of the match, the hosts were able to take advantage of two chances late in the game with strikes from George Newell and Neil McLaughlin handing the Steelmen the points.
Andy Kirk was able to call upon the services of Ryan Edwards, Anthony McDonald and Harry Cochrane, while Arnaud Djoum made his first appearance in a Hearts jersey after six-months out injured.
The hosts threatened first, with Newell’s cross from the left finding Jamie Semple inside the box but his low drive was smothered by Kelby Mason.
Motherwell were handed a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 8th minute when Callumn Morrison was judged to have clipped Semple from behind inside the box, but Mason produced a tremendous flying save to deny Newell from the spot.
Cochrane was first to attack for Hearts, trying his luck from 25-yards out after McDonald had exchanged passes with Aidan Keena, but the midfielder’s curling effort was well over the bar.
Cochrane went closer after 35 minutes, again with a long-range effort but Peter Morrison in the Motherwell goal turned the ball around his near post.
From the resulting corner, Chris Hamilton rose highest to head goalwards, only to see the ball fly past Morrison’s left-hand post.
At the other end Newell got on the end of a cross to glance a header across the face of goal and out for a goal kick.
With a minute of the half remaining, David Turnbull’s corner to the back door was met by Christian Mbulu but his powerful header couldn’t find the target.
It was an even start to the second half, with Morrison sending a teasing ball across the face of goal but to no takers, while Newell went up the other end and blasted an effort well over the bar.
Mason produced another good save after 63 minutes, clawing the ball away from his line after McLaughlin popped up to header on target from the edge of the six-yard box.
Morrison in the Motherwell goal made a couple of saves from long-distance efforts from Callumn Morrison and Keena, before the hosts took the lead in the 73rd minute.
The ball bounced around the Hearts box before Newell stepped up to power it home from eight yards.
Callumn Morrison saw another long-range effort saved before Motherwell doubled their lead. The Jambos couldn’t clear inside the box and McLaughlin was able to take a touch to create space before drilling low into the bottom corner.
There was to be no consolation goal and although Hearts will feel hard done by after a fairly even encounter, Motherwell will feel the scoreline is justified after showing some clinical finishing in the second half.
Motherwell: Morrison, MacDonald, Livingstone, Maguire, Mbulu, Armstrong, Semple (Watson, 46'), Turnbull, Newell (Agyeman, 82'), McLaughlin, Krones. Subs: Humphrey, Hussain, Brown.
Hearts: Mason, Morrison, Burns, Hamilton, Baur, Petkov, Djoum (Currie, 60), Cochrane, Keena (Henderson, 74'), Edwards, McDonald. Subs: Silva, Ritchie, Gajda, Hicket.