Three things we learned from Hearts 2-3 Motherwell

Here are three Hearts-related observations from their defeat at home to Motherwell.

Saturday, 14th September 2019, 7:06 pm
Ryotaro Meshino, right, gave Hearts a lift in the second half.
Ryotaro Meshino, right, gave Hearts a lift in the second half.

What a difference a year makes

On the equivalent Saturday in 2018, Hearts supporters bounded gleefully out of Fir Park after seeing their team defeat Motherwell 1-0 - an eighth victory in succession in all competitions - to go five points clear at the top of the Premiership. At the end of the match, they were singing Craig Levein’s name as he had just returned to work following his heart scare. A year on and Hearts sit rock-bottom of the league with no wins from their opening five games, and Levein finds himself the subject of protests from supporters who feel he is now past the point of no return. It is hard to see any way the embattled manager can now rescue the situation.

Everything that can go wrong is going wrong

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In general play, Hearts weren’t particularly bad. Indeed, they arguably offered more moments of promise against Motherwell than in their two home draws with Ross County and Hamilton. However, three horrible lapses at key moments in the game gifted Motherwell control. Seconds before the visitors went 3-1 up, substitute Conor Washington missed a great chance to make it 2-2. As if to exacerbate an already wretched situation, Washington pulled up injured at a time when Levein had used all his subs, leaving his team to chase the game with just ten men. With each passing week, it feels like the fates are conspiring against Levein and his increasingly beleaguered team.

Ryo a ray of hope

Amid all the doom and gloom, Ryotaro Meshino’s contribution as a second-half substitute offered a beacon of hope. The Japanese attacker, in only his second appearance for the club, did superbly to set up Uche Ikpeazu’s goal and then produced a lovely finish to score one himself. He looked confident despite the tension in the stadium and it was notable that he was eager to take responsibility at times, regularly directing Ikpeazu into position during breaks in play and also ushering the big striker away from trouble when he got himself booked towards the end.