Despite Christopher Long's fine second half goal, Motherwell are out of the Betfred Cup after losing 2-1 to Hearts at Fir Park in a second round tie on Friday night, writes Craig Goldthorp.
There was an early let-off for Motherwell as Hearts' Sean Clare sent an eighth minute penalty low against the right post.
Justice seemed to be done with Clare's miss as the award for handball against Motherwell's Charles Dunne which led to the spot kick seemed harsh in the extreme from referee Bobby Madden.
The handball was surely accidental from Dunne as the ball spun up and hit him as he tried to clear after a Hearts corner had been partially dealt with.
Hearts were the more threatening side early on in a crackling atmosphere as Jamie Walker had a low shot saved by Mark Gillespie before the same player had another effort deflected wide for a corner.
Motherwell's first scoring chance on 18 minutes saw Richard Tait's deep cross to the back post find Sherwin Seedorf in space but the Dutch winger couldn't control the ball properly.
The hosts came close to breaking the deadlock on 22 minutes when a fine burst took James Scott clear down the left and his cross saw Jermaine Hylton and Seedorf efforts saved before Allan Campbell's follow-up effort was blocked on the line.
The game was coming alive now and play raged to the other end where Conor Washington's low left foot effort was well saved by Gillespie.
Motherwell's Charles Dunne made a goal saving challenge on 27 minutes when he brilliantly stretched to clear a cross from the right when the ball seemed to be coming through to Washington.
But Hearts did hit the front on 39 minutes when Michael Smith shot low into the left corner from the edge of the box with his left foot after taking a Washington pass.
As the rain lashed down, Motherwell's top scorer this season, Liam Donnelly, unleashed a 25-yarder but it was too close to Hearts keeper Joel Pereira who saved comfortably.
Hearts went two ahead in first half stoppage time when Gillespie rushed from his line to take out the onrushing Jake Mulraney at the expense of a penalty. Washington subsequently shot Hearts two ahead comfortably.
The Jambos had another goal effort on 52 minutes when Sean Clare nipped in to intercept Dunne's intended pass to half-time Motherwell substitute Devante Cole and advanced before sending in a shot which was straight at Gillespie.
Motherwell kept battling away and a fine Liam Polworth through ball found substitute Christopher Long on the hour mark. He comfortably shot low past Pereira.
The Steelmen almost equalised freakishly on 76 minutes when Polworth's inswinging free-kick from the left was met by Hearts forward Washington, whose deflection went straight towards the goal and forced Pereira to turn the ball round the post.
Hearts came so close to making it 3-1 on 86 minutes when Gillespie made a fantastic point blank stop from Hearts sub Aidan White who had bludgeoned his way through the middle.
Motherwell: Gillespie, Tait, Grimshaw, Campbell (Ilic 78), Seedorf, Hylton (Long 45), Scott (Cole 45), Dunne, Polworth, Donnelly, Gallagher.
Referee: Bobby Madden