Hearts debrief: The obvious man of the match, Peter Haring's foolhardy clearance, Toby Sibbick's injury

A look back at Hearts’ defeat to Motherwell in the penultimate game of the season.

Player of the match

It was easily Andy Halliday. Had this been a meaningful league contest for the visitors, and if he wasn’t taking injections to get over Achilles’ trouble, he would’ve stayed on for the final 30 minutes and Hearts would’ve had a better chance at grabbing an equaliser. Instead he was subbed off as a precaution and the performance dipped. His running with the ball was a real threat from deep while his passing was impressive also. Others like Gary Mackay-Steven, Josh Ginnelly and Ben Woodburn sparkled in the early going but the trio, particularly the former two, couldn’t keep it going after the break.

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Defining moment

Connor Shields tackles Hearts winger Gary Mackay-Steven during the cinch Premiership match at Motherwell's Fir Park. Picture: SNS

The second goal gave Motherwell something to hold. The hosts knew a win would be good enough for European football and it just made things that little bit harder for a Hearts side making numerous late changes to get back into things. It will be a goal that rankles Robbie Neilson, however, as Toby Sibbick was too slack with a pass into midfield in the build-up before Peter Haring made a poor attempt at a headed clearance from his own six-yard box which went straight to match-winner Ricki Lamie.

Ref watch

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Young whistler Matthew MacDermid had a solid outing in what appears to be his first ever cinch Premiership game. He let play flow pretty well, only brandished cards when he had to and was pretty consistent in how he called again. It will, however, be interesting to see back a potential foul on Liam Boyce which would’ve given Hearts a penalty quite soon into the second half. Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson definitely seemed to think it was.

Benefit of hindsight

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It’s hard to be too critical of management from a game which was about as much getting players fit and ready for the Scottish Cup final as it was about denying Motherwell a place in Europe. Some earlier changes might’ve saved Toby Sibbick from injury, but his loss won’t be as keenly felt if, as expected, Craig Halkett and John Souttar return in time for the Hampden showdown.

Message from the editor

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