Scottish Premiership
MotherwellMotherwell1HeartsHeart of Midlothian0

Motherwell 1-0 Heart of Midlothian

By Chris McLaughlinBBC Scotland Sport
Lionel Ainsworth fires home for Motherwell
Lionel Ainsworth fired home the winner on his return to the side

Hearts' hopes of catching Aberdeen in second place suffered a major blow as Lionel Ainsworth's first-half winner lifted Motherwell back into fourth.

Ainsworth fired home diagonally from the edge of the box and it proved to be the only goal at Fir Park.

Jamie Walker, Prince Buaben and Arnaud Djoum wasted chances for the lacklustre visitors, who remain eight points behind the Dons with four games left.

Louis Moult and Scott McDonald might have added further goals for the hosts.

But Moult hit the post in the second half and McDonald blasted a golden opportunity over the bar.

Hearts, who have now not won at Fir Park in their last seven attempts, tried to spark a late fightback and Callum Paterson's volley was well saved by Craig Samson.

But they could not find a way past a defiant Motherwell, who restored a one-point advantage over St Johnstone.

'All the tempo of a midweek training match'

The last time the two sides met, Hearts put six past the Steelmen with no reply at Tynecastle in January.

What a difference a few months make.

It started with all the tempo and passion of a midweek training match - surprising, given that the two sides faced up in fine form.

Motherwell dominated the early possession but the passing was pretty poor and the chances rare.

The visitors broke out occasionally and had a couple of speculative efforts from Walker and Buaben but neither shot really troubled Samson, who had stepped in to replace the unwell Connor Ripley.

Callum Paterson looks dejected after Hearts' defeat at Motherwell
Hearts have an unhappy recent record at Fir Park

But just as the game was beginning to spiral into complete mediocrity and the home fans were bemoaning a missed opportunity from Chris Cadden, Scott McDonald laid the ball off to Ainsworth, who smashed the ball low past Neil Alexander from just inside the box.

It was probably deserved on the run of play and it was a goal that sparked some much-needed life into the encounter in general.

Well spurn chances to extend lead

Hearts pushed on and looked to take the game to the hosts but despite some neat link-up play involving Djoum and Sam Nicholson, they could not breach a fairly sturdy Motherwell defence.

But Mark McGhee's side started the second half with drive and determination and Moult passed up a golden chance to make it two after a slack pass from Paterson in the Hearts defence.

On the hour Moult had an even better chance to double the lead when he found himself through on goal just inside the box, but he looked on in despair as his low shot smashed off the post and away to safety.

It was an expression shared by his team-mate McDonald moments later when he also found himself through on goal and uncharacteristically smashed the ball high over the bar.

Hearts pinned Motherwell back near the end but it was all huff and puff and Motherwell held out for a well deserved win.

Line-ups

Motherwell

Formation 4-4-1-1

  • 13Samson
  • 18LawSubstituted forHallat 40'minutes
  • 16Kennedy
  • 6McManus
  • 3HammellBooked at 22mins
  • 11Johnson
  • 7AinsworthSubstituted forChalmersat 83'minutes
  • 14LasleySubstituted forLeitchat 45'minutes
  • 26CaddenBooked at 62mins
  • 77McDonald
  • 20Moult

Substitutes

  • 1Ripley
  • 15Chalmers
  • 21Leitch
  • 23Thomas
  • 28Watt
  • 32Hall
  • 35Campbell

Hearts

Formation 4-2-3-1

  • 1Alexander
  • 2Paterson
  • 5Ozturk
  • 24Souttar
  • 28SmithBooked at 70mins
  • 8BuabenSubstituted forCowieat 80'minutes
  • 23KitchenBooked at 68mins
  • 7Walker
  • 16Sutchuin-Djoum
  • 11NicholsonSubstituted forDaudaat 68'minutes
  • 19Delgado LloriaSubstituted forReillyat 79'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Augustyn
  • 13Hamilton
  • 14Pallardo Gonzalez
  • 20Reilly
  • 21Cowie
  • 22McGhee
  • 25Dauda
Referee:
Andrew Dallas
Attendance:
5,125

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamHearts
Possession
Home49%
Away51%
Shots
Home7
Away9
Shots on Target
Home3
Away3
Corners
Home7
Away6
Fouls
Home11
Away12

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 0.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Motherwell 1, Heart of Midlothian 0.

  3. Post update

    Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Perry Kitchen.

  4. Post update

    Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Callum Paterson.

  5. Post update

    Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Don Cowie.

  6. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Gavin Reilly (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

  7. Post update

    Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Kieran Kennedy.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

  9. Post update

    Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. Joe Chalmers replaces Lionel Ainsworth.

  11. Post update

    Attempt missed. Abiola Dauda (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

  12. Post update

    Attempt saved. Marvin Johnson (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top right corner.

  13. Post update

    Jamie Walker (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Foul by Jack Leitch (Motherwell).

  15. Substitution

    Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Don Cowie replaces Prince Buaben.

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Heart of Midlothian. Gavin Reilly replaces Juanma.

  17. Post update

    Corner, Heart of Midlothian. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

  18. Post update

    Attempt blocked. Juanma (Heart of Midlothian) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

  19. Post update

    Foul by Scott McDonald (Motherwell).

  20. Post update

    Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

As It Stood

TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Celtic33237378255376
2Aberdeen34215856391768
3Hearts34179854342060
4Motherwell34145154249-747
5St Johnstone34137145151046
6Ross County33134164855-743
7Dundee341014105050044
8Partick Thistle34118153341-841
9Inverness CT331010134043-340
10Hamilton3399153655-1936
11Kilmarnock3388173354-2132
12Dundee Utd3366213358-2524
View full Scottish Premiership table

Top Stories