Maroon Memories: Hearts bank on Sloan

Robert Sloan secured the three points for Hearts
Robert Sloan secured the three points for Hearts
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Robert Sloan’s late winner on his Hearts debut secured the Jambos a deserved win away to Motherwell as they consolidated their position in the top six.

Craig Levein’s men dominated the opening half and took the lead through midfielder Scott Severin, but the home side then pulled level through Keith Lasley.

Sixth-placed Hearts were not to be denied, though, and Sloan’s 83rd minute effort assured them of all three points.

An early free-kick caused chaos inside the home side’s penalty area with Kevin McKenna having his shot from close range blocked by home keeper Stephen Woods before the ball was eventually cleared to safety.

Hearts skipper Stephen Pressley and McKenna both had headers saved by Well keeper Woods as the visitors pressed for an early goal.

And there was no real surprise when Hearts took the lead with a simple yet well-worked goal midway through the first half.

Austrian Thomas Flogel attacked the Well penalty area and slipped a great ball into the path of Severin, who slammed a first-time shot past the helpless Woods from 12 yards.

In the 35th minute, the impressive Ricardo Fuller pulled off a breathtaking piece of skill inside the Motherwell box which fashioned a shooting opportunity but his angled shot from eight yards out went narrowly wide.

Hearts keeper Antti Niemi saw his first real action two minutes after the restart when he had to rush out of his box to clear a long through-ball and at last the home side began to look more positive.

In the 55th minute Motherwell grabbed the equaliser they had been threatening.

A Greg Strong free-kick from the left-hand side arrived at the back post and Keith Lasley arrowed a tremendous shot past Niemi who stood rooted to the spot.

The visitors battled hard to regain the upper hand but found the Lanarkshire men in much more formidable mood.

In the 61st minute, a Karl Ready header caused havoc in the Hearts six-yard box and Dirk Lehmann’s shot ricocheted off a posse of defenders before being cleared.

With the home side now in the ascendancy, Lehmann then unleashed a shot from 25 yards out which Niemi was content to punch away.

Lehmann should have given the home side the lead in the 73rd minute when he was clear through on goal but shot tamely at Niemi from 14 yards.

But Hearts regained their lead after yet more good work by Flogel as the match looked set for a draw.

The midfielder brilliantly picked out Sloan with a raking pass and the youngster stepped inside Martyn Corrigan before placing his shot in off the far post.

Hearts: Niemi, Maybury, Mahe, McKenna, Pressley, Gronlund, Severin, Flogel, Sloan, Weir, Fuller.