Fine play was not enough for Motherwell as Hearts scored three without reply in a thrilling game at Fir Park.
The score hardly reflected the balance of play but the visitors took their few opportunities while Stevie Hammell’s side was thwarted by stout defence and missed chances.
Barry Maguire stood in for Callum Slattery as the only change to the starting eleven. Joe Efford got the game underway and both sides set about their business in proper footballing fashion. The play flowed to either end with lots of passing and wholehearted commitment.
Hearts got a break after fifteen minutes. Ricky Lamie seemed to lose his footing and failed to clear. The ball fell to Lawrence Shankland in the middle of the penalty area but he was unable to beat Liam Kelly with his powerful shot. The ball fell well for the striker and he had a simple finish to open the scoring.
Kevin Van Veen will regret missing the target from the right side of the box.
Efford had to be replaced after half an hour by Rolando Aarons but he failed to last to the break and limped down the tunnel to give Stuart McKinstry half a game.
Motherwell had a wonderful chance a minute into the second period. Matt Penney delivered a cross from the left and Blair Spittal saw is headed attempt beat Craig Gordon and hit the post. The rebound fell to Pail McGinn and his attempt ran across the goal line to bounce to safety against the opposite post.
A feeling that this was not going to be a good day was reinforced two minutes later when Alan Forrest places a left footed curled to Kelly’s right corner.
Motherwell regrouped and poured wave after wave of attack on the Hearts’ goal. A triple substitution freshened the attack and brought the return of Louis Moult to a huge cheer. The returning strikes had the ball in the net within minutes but the assistant’s flag was correct.
Hearts sent reinforcement t their back line as they set up to withstand the barrage. A full range of time wasting routines were employed as frustration grew in the home stands.
Penney had a couple of blistering long range strikes. The first needed Gordon at full stretch and the second rattled the junction of post and bar. Bevis Mugabi directed a header wide of the tempting target and we knew that lady luck had left the ground.
A rare Hearts attack led to a well taken third goal and a second for Forrest to give the McLean Stand crowd a happy homeward journey.
Those home fans that remained until the end of the six added minutes applauded the team. They had played well again but failed to score.
Motherwell 0 Hearts 3
Team: Kelly, Penney, McGinn, Lamie (Mugabi 67), Solholm, Tierney (Moult 67), Spittal, Maguire (Cornelius 67), Goss, Van Veen, Efford (Aarons 20 (McKinstry 44)
Sunday 18 September 2022