Hearts debrief: Zander Clark silver lining, Alex Cochrane 'substitution' shambles, Stephen Humphrys from the start
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Player of the match
Easy. Zander Clark made a tremendous save to deny Sean Goss from opening the scoring – yet could only watch on as the inept defence in front of him allowed Jonathan Obika a tap-in a minute later. He made potentially an even better save later in the game, though may not have mattered as the linesman’s flag had gone up. Lawrence Shankland was one of the very few in maroon who seemed to be awake, let alone playing with intensity and determination. A shocking performance from so many in maroon and white.
Didn’t impact the result at all, but the farcical situation where Alex Cochrane walked off the park and around the goal, only to be told he had not, in fact, been substituted, summed up Hearts on the day. It was an absolute shambles.
There wasn’t much for referee Don Robertson to debate over. A couple of half-hearted Hearts penalty appeals that were ignored, while Motherwell could feel a bit miffed for a harsh handball decision which led to Stephen Kingsley hitting the bar. The whistler actually did Hearts a favour by playing advantage at the second goal as he could have easily blown early for a foul on Kingsley which would’ve meant a penalty and a red card.
Benefit of hindsight
The strange thing is that this wasn’t some tactical flop. The team set out was probably the strongest you could pick with those available and fully fit. Those players just didn’t turn up. Perhaps you could say Stephen Humphrys is best used off the bench but given his recent form he deserved his chance from the start. Barrie McKay was lucky to last the full 90, but you could have taken off just about the entire team and it’d be deserved so it’s not like it made a huge difference either. Was Jorge Grant the only substitution that could have been made at half-time? Maybe not, but managers will typically let teams in decent form play themselves out of trouble. This just wasn’t the day for that.