Story of Hearts 2-0 Motherwell: No shortage of fuel in Gorgie as Jambos surge top of the Scottish Premiership
If there is a fuel supply shortage right now, someone better tell Hearts. They delivered another energetic, high-intensity display at Tynecastle Park to move top of the Scottish Premiership.
After last week’s 3-0 defeat of Livingston, a 2-0 victory against in-form Motherwell propelled the unbeaten Edinburgh club to the league summit. Liam Boyce’s early penalty followed by Stephen Kingsley’s free-kick had them 2-0 ahead inside 22 minutes and they should have won by a greater margin if the truth be told.
Motherwell arrived in Gorgie unbeaten in the league since their opening-day 3-2 loss against Hibs, recording four wins and two draws in their subsequent six Premiership fixtures. They couldn’t match Hearts’ vigour, though, especially in the first half.
Many parts of Britain struggled to get fuel in vehicles this week with HGV driver numbers low. There is no problem with zest in the Capital’s west end, particularly with players like the excellent Michael Smith, Beni Baningime, Cameron Devlin and Barrie McKay. Boyce even saw a second-half penalty saved by visiting goalkeeper Liam Kelly.
Motherwell found themselves facing a deficit just four minutes in. Kelly sprinted out of his goal in a race with Boyce to reach McKay’s through pass. With contact made and the forward on the floor, referee David Munro awarded a penalty. Boyce converted it convincingly.
Hearts doubled their advantage with less than a quarter of the game played. As at Ross County two weeks previously, Kingsley arced a sublime left-footed free-kick over the wall and high into the net from 22 yards to bring a roar of approval from the home support.
Their side were touching the heights with crisp passing and sharp movement which Motherwell couldn't deal with. Kelly stretched to push Ben Woodburn’s drive from 25 yards over the crossbar as half-time approached.
The only real moment of consternation for Robbie Neilson came in the dying seconds of the first period. Tony Watt’s touch and volley forced Craig Gordon to leap and touch the ball over for a corner. It was a timely reminder of Motherwell’s capability in attack.
Boyce should have put this game completely beyond the visitors with another penalty ten minutes into the second half. However, Kelly produced a tremendous save from the Northern Irishman after Callum Slattery had impeded Devlin inside the area.
Motherwell responded with a useful break which ended with winger Kaiyne Woolery’s shot, forcing Gordon to save low to his right. Kelly’s airborne stop from Baningime minutes later was equally impressive in what was becoming a more even second half. Gordon fisted away Mark O’Hara’s powerful free-kick on 72 minutes.
As time wore on, those from Fir Park grew in confidence as Hearts’ fuel reserves perhaps began to diminish after earlier endeavours. O’Hara found more space in midfield where opponents like Devlin and Beni Baningime had seemingly been powered by Duracell for most of the afternoon.
They did enough to see the game out without conceding, earning another three points to top the league above Rangers and Hibs who meet at Ibrox on Sunday.
Hearts (3-4-3): Gordon; Moore, Halkett (Halliday 55), Kingsley; M Smith, Baningime, Devlin, Cochrane; McKay (Haring 80), Boyce, Woodburn (Mackay-Steven 69).
Motherwell (4-3-3): Kelly; O’Donnell, Mugabi, Ojala, McGinley; Grimshaw (Amaluzor 75), Slattery, O’Hara; Woolery, Watt, Van Veen (Shields 82).
Referee: David Munro.