Motherwell FC lost 2-0 at Hearts in their third Scottish Premiership fixture of the season on Wednesday night.
A capacity crowd of 16,645 – including 740 Motherwell fans – created a fantastic atmosphere on a mild, sunkissed night at Tynecastle which ended with Hearts going top of the table.
Hearts made a fast start and their energetic running was to cause Motherwell problems all night. Play was delayed after 12 minutes due to a clash of heads between Hearts’ Gavin Reilly and Motherwell centre half Louis Laing, but both men were fit enough to continue. Hearts had three or four decent chances – with Motherwell restricted to occasional breakaways – before the hosts finally took the lead on 31 minutes. ’Well striker Scott McDonald – who had a frustrating evening – fouled Sam Nicholson in the box at the expense of a penalty which Riley netted with a low shot past Motherwell keeper Connor Ripley. The goal led to the playing of hit Lightning Seeds song Life of Riley over the Tynecastle tannoy. To their credit, Motherwell hit back quickly and winger Marvin Johnson had a 20-yard shot saved by Neil Alexander after Lionel Ainsworth’s initial cross from the right had been partially cleared.
Hearts’ Prince Buaben missed a glorious chance to put his side 2-0 up after 36 minutes when he headed wide from a central position.
Reilly shot straight at Ripley a minute later, the last relevant action of a first half which ended 1-0 to the home team.
Motherwell started the second half better and Ainsworth’s dangerous 47th minute cross flashed across the Hearts goalmouth.
Reilly had a shot saved by Ripley before ’Well debutant Jake Taylor – newly signed on loan from Reading – was booked for a foul on Nicholson.
Laing sent a powerful snap shot wide after 63 minutes, before Hearts scored a killer second goal just a minute later. Billy King’s left footed strike from 20 yards appeared fairly close to Ripley’s right hand, but the ball beat the big keeper and ended up in the corner of the net.
’Well skipper Keith Lasley was then substituted for Jack Leitch; Lasley showed his frustration at how the night had gone by kicking the dugout.
The remaining minutes of the match were dominated by a series of substitutions. ’Well replacement David Clarkson sent a spectacular 20-yard volley over the bar with two minutes remaining. And Clarkson then set up Johnson in the final minute, but his left footed strike from 18 yards was saved low down by Alexander.
Hearts: Paterson, Ozturk, Gomis, Buaben, Sow (Delgado 60), Nicholson, King (Oliver 88), Oshaniwa, Rossi (McGhee 83), Reilly.
Motherwell: Ripley, Hammell, Laing, McManus, Ainsworth, Johnson, Lasley (Leitch 66), Law, Moult (Thomas 76), Taylor, McDonald (Clarkson 87).