Indeed, if you compiled a positive and negative list from the 90 minutes it would ordinarily not make pleasant reading. We offered little going forward, our passing was slack and we spent more than half the game defending on our 18-yard line. What we did have was organisation and determination in abundance. Oh, and Michael Higdon who produced arguably his best performance in claret and amber when we needed it most.
Higdon, given more leeway than usual by the referee, bullied the Hearts central defence and was a lot more mobile than usual. He linked the play well and scored the winning goal mid-way through the first half by curling home a rebound after Murphy’s shot at had been spilled. Goal apart we offered a couple of half-hearted shots from distance in the opening period and instead we defended for the majority. Hearts had a couple of optimistic penalty appeals turned down and Hutchinson flicked a cross clear when Elliott was heading for a tap in from the back post.
We expected a long second half and the introduction of Skacel suggested guarding the box would prove a risky tactic. However, our defenders won ball after ball in the air while Lasley and Jennings were tireless in closing down the opposition. Hearts should have levelled when Templeton broke into the box only to shoot weakly at Randolph and a header from Barr at a free kick had ‘goal’ written all over it before flashing past the post.
As the game progressed we were effective on the counter and Lasley’s drive deflected inches past the post as he looked to cap a superb move. Humphrey couldn’t quite send a cross beyond MacDonald to the waiting Law and we had to endure a nervous finale. Hearts started hitting the penalty spot from everywhere but after a couple of scares in injury time we were home safe.
The Motherwell players thanked the fans at full time for their support which was, even by the standards of this season, phenomenal. All eyes turn to Ibrox now for United’s visit tomorrow and then our match in Govan on Saturday; the Champions League is just two points away.