Motherwell 0-0 Hearts

By Keir MurrayBBC Sport Scotland

Motherwell and Hearts had to settle for a point apiece after a drab Scottish Premier League match at Fir Park.

Home goalkeeper Darren Randolph saved an early Ryan Stevenson free-kick before inflicting a very clumsy challenge on Hearts striker Callum Paterson that went unpunished.

At the other end, Hearts keeper Jamie MacDonald dived smartly to parry a Michael Higdon header.

And his close-range block of Higdon's shot was a rare second-half highlight.

In the build-up to the match, Motherwell manager Stuart McCall called on his players to make their spells of dominance count and urged his team to improve their home form.

But Hearts arrived in Lanarkshire with the best defensive record away from home in the SPL - six goals in seven matches.

In truth, then, a stalemate should be no great surprise.

It was Hearts who had the first chance, when only the keen reflexes of Randolph prevented Stevenson's free-kick from opening the scoring.

Paterson showed considerable resilience to continue after Randolph had caught the striker on the head with his outstretched shin as he came, knee up, to collect a high ball.

Referee Crawford Allan dismissed the appeals from the white-shirted Hearts players to send the goalie off.

Chris Humphrey continued the fine form he showed at Inverness last week by sweeping a cross from the right on to the head of Higdon midway through the first half.

The burly striker could scarcely have connected better but MacDonald dived smartly to his left to make an impressive save.

As a scrappy first half developed, Motherwell looked the more likely to break the deadlock, but, Higdon's header aside, Well's threat was limited to speculative efforts such as Henrik Ojamaa's long-range strike that fizzed a yard wide of the Hearts goal.

Paterson's gutsiness was matched by his team-mate Danny Grainger just before the interval when the Hearts defender badly jarred his left knee.

The physio seemed to be checking for ligament damage before he and the player decided he could continue, but his involvement after the break lasted only four minutes, Mehdi Taouil the replacement.

The array of "Movember" moustaches being sported by the players offered more entertainment than the football but Jamie Murphy did his best to raise the standard when he waltzed from left to right in the Hearts half and threaded a pass to Higdon.

MacDonald, though, was alert and, having raced from his line, blocked the Englishman's shot and Murphy's follow-up.

Right-winger Humphrey rarely cuts inside the opposition's left-back but in the 80th minute he did just that, reaching the box and pinging a left-foot shot that MacDonald did well to block.

The home side pressed Hearts back and their final effort fell to Higdon at the front post but he knocked a low cross from the left narrowly wide.

In the fourth minute of injury time Ryan McGowan ought to have snatched the three points but he headed substitute Arvydas Novikovas's corner wide of the target.

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