Motherwell 1 Heart of Midlothian 0

Ladbrokes Premiership, Saturday 7th December 2019 – Fir Park

Hearts must have given new manager Daniel Stendel plenty of food for thought after another pitiful display saw them ship another three points at Fir Park on Saturday. The black-shirted Hearts players never really threatened to take anything from a Motherwell side which had been battling illness all week.

A goal five minutes before half time from Long was all that separated the teams but, in truth, Hearts looked like a team that badly needs leadership on and off the park. To cap another miserable day for the Gorgie club, Jake Mulraney was shown a red card late in the game for what appeared to be foul and abusive language towards referee Alan Muir.

In what was to prove to be his swansong, Hearts interim manager Austin MacPhee made three changes to the team that salvaged a point against Livingston on Wednesday evening. Steven MacLean came in for the inured again Steven Naismith while Ryotaro Meshino returned as did, inexplicably, goalkeeper Joel Pereria who had been displaced in midweek by Bobby Zlamal.

As they did on Wednesday Hearts began brightly and Michael Smith had a chance to open the scoring after 15 minutes, but the Northern Irishman showed why he is a defender by missing the ball from around 10 yards out.

It was a missed chance the visitors would rue as Motherwell took the lead five minutes before half-time. A mistake from Jamie Brandon exposed Craig Halkett leading to Hylton to set up Long who shot high into the net.

Given Hearts are badly lacking in confidence one could almost see the heads go down and the home side should have doubled their lead early in the second half when Hylton’s shot took a deflection and went out for a corner.

Hearts then had a chance when Jamie Walker crossed for Craig Halkett who nodded down for Meshino, but the Japanese player’s effort was just too high. He had another chance moments later but his shot on goal was straight at home keeper Gillespie.

Then it was Steven MacLean’s chance to draw parity but his effort was well saved (if you’ll pardon the pun) by Gillespie.

Motherwell really should have put the game to bed when Polworth’s shot on goal looked a certain goal only for his teammate Campbell to nudge the ball over the line when he was clearly in an offside position.

The last chance of the game fell to young Jamie Brandon but his inexperience got the better of him and his effort on goal was rushed resulting in the ball being fired high and wide. It was a move which summed up Hearts season – it promised much but delivered little.

Just before the end Jake Mulraney reacted angrily to being told to get back ten yards at a free kick and was shown a straight red card by referee Muir.

The Hearts players trooped off the field to a chorus of boos from the 836 strong travelling support who deserved much better. With Daniel Stendel now in charge surely they’ll get it?

Motherwell: Gillespie, Carroll, Grimshaw, Campbell, Long (Hartley, 75′), Hylton, Scott (Cole, 65′), Polworth (O’Hara, 85′), Donnelly, Mugabi, Gallagher.

Hearts: Pereira, Smith, Berra, Clare, Walker (Ikpeazu, 57′), Mulraney, Whelan, MacLean (Wighton, 85′), Brandon, Halkett, Meshino (Keena, 85′). S

Referee: Alan Muir

Attendance: 4,745

Top man: I’m giving up on this.