Magnificent Motherwell won at Tynecastle thanks to a Callum Slattery first half goal and fierce defending in the second period with only ten men.
Harry Paton joined the starting eleven as Joe Efford dropped to the bench. Motherwell kicked off with the 600 travelling fans behind Liam Kelly’s goal.
Motherwell enjoyed the majority of the ball in the first half and were rewarded when Callum Slattery opened the scoring after 26 minutes. Stephen O’Donnell switched the ball from left to right Slattery fed Blair Spittal. The midfielder continued the forward run and Spittal delivered the defence splitting pass to free Slattery inside the box. His right footed sweep found the net. The offside flag was raised but the VAR check confirmed the goal.
Before that Bevis Mugabi forced Zander Clark into a tip over the bar with his header in the midst of a flurry of ‘Well corners. After his goal Slattery attempted a 60 yard effort as he spotted Clark off his line. We help our breath but the ball was high.
Theo Bair gave Spittal a chance for a right footed curler but the attempt was wide of the post. Seconds later Kyosuke Tagana was wasteful with a high header at the other end.
Hearts made a couple of changes at the break and Kelly had to be alert as Lawrence Shankland tested him in the first minute.
The balance of the game changed as the home side pressed relentlessly for an equaliser. The ‘Well defence withstood the repeated onslaughts but they had to redouble their efforts when John McGinn was awared a harsh second card after a coming together with Liam Boyce.
The ten men switched to 4-4-2 and dug in. The clock seemed to slow but Kelly had only one further save to make as he clutched a Shankland shot from inside the penalty area.
Seven cruel minutes were added but the travelling band in the corner of the Roseburn Stand were able to enjoy a rare triumph in Gorgie.
The international break lies ahead and Motherwell can be very pleased with their opening to the league campaign.
Hearts 0 Motherwell 1
Team: Kelly, O’Donnell, McGinn, Mugabi, Casey, Blaney, Spittal, Slattery (Zdravkoski 75), Miller (McGinley 89), Paton, Bair (Shaw 80)
Sunday 3 September 2023