Hearts missed the chance to leapfrog Celtic into second place in the Premiership yesterday as rampant Motherwell recorded a comfortable 2-0 win over the Jambos and make it back-to-back wins.

Graham Alexander’s side made four changes as Ricki Lamie, Callum Slattery, Kaiyne Woolery and Connor Shields all came into the starting XI, replacing Kevin van Veen, Mark O’Hara, Juhani Ojala, and on-loan winger Jordan Roberts who can’t play against his parent club while Scotland international Stephen O’Donnell was named among the substitutes.

There was only one change for the Jambos from their 5-2 win over Dundee United, Michael Smith returning from injury to replace Craig Halkett – while Liam Boyce was named on the bench.

Hearts carved out the first chance of the afternoon, Barrie McKay picking out Ben Woodburn, who had got in behind the Motherwell defence, but the on-loan Liverpool striker couldn’t get the ball under control; bouncing off him and into the arms of Liam Kelly.

However with 23 minutes gone, it was the hosts who opened the scoring, Connor Shields getting a lucky break of the ball in the area before firing beyond Craig Gordon to grab his first goal for the Steelmen since moving to Fir Park from Queen of the South.

Having had a fantastic start to the campaign, going a goal down would normally the spark for Hearts to start turning things around but Robbie Neilson’s side lacked any real appetite to get themselves back into things.

The Jambos have been one of the best footballing sides in the league this season but there wasn’t the usual vibrancy and positivity in Hearts’ performance to suggest they were likely to draw level any time before the break.

 

Motherwell were clearly on top as the opening 45 wound down, with the hosts going in at the break 1-0 up.

The Steelmen started the second half looking hungry and eager to add to their lead and, despite failing to make their pressure count, Hearts’ hopes of a comeback were killed off midway through the second half.

In the space of a minute, Rickie Lamie headed Motherwell into a 2-0 lead and Taylor Moore was shown a second yellow card as the game went from about trying to mount a comeback to damage limitation for the Tynecastle side.

That sparked new life into Motherwell and if it weren’t for several impressive saves from Craig Gordon, the deficit could well have been much bigger as the hosts looked threatening.

There wouldn’t be any further goals but there was plenty for Alexander to be happy with as his side picked up where they left off before the international break while Hearts were left wondering what went wrong for them in Lanarkshire.

Motherwell: Kelly, Mugabi, Solholm, Lamie, McGinley, Goss, Slattery, Maguire, Shields, Woolery, Watt.
Substitutes: Fox, O’Donnell, Carroll, O’Connor, Amaluzor, Cornelius, Grimshaw.

Hearts: Gordon, Smith, Kingsley, Souttar, Baningme, Woodburn, Devlin, Moore, Cochrane, McKay, Ginnelly.
Substitutes: Stewart, Haring, Walker, McEneff, Boyce, Mackay-Steven, Gnanduillet

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