Grainger helps Hearts pump Well

Danny Grainger’s long-range strike earned Hearts a 1-0 victory

over Motherwell – their first SPL home win since the opening day of

the season.

The left-back powered the ball into the top corner amid some

early pressure and the home side repelled Motherwell’s comeback

attempts to end the SPL’s only unbeaten away record.

Motherwell had some good possession and midfielder Nicky Law had

a header cleared off the line but Hearts were never under the cosh

and substitute John Sutton squandered a chance to make the game

safe.

Both teams lined up with similar formations with Tom Hateley at

the base of a three-man central midfield for the visitors, who

brought in Fraser Kerr for the suspended Adam Cummins.

Motherwell had not played for three weeks due to their game

against Dundee United before the international break fell victim to

a power cut, but they showed no signs of initial rustiness as

winger Jamie Murphy threatened inside 45 seconds with a run and

shot that Jamie MacDonald pushed wide at full stretch.

But Hearts quickly forced their way on the front foot and Andrew

Driver curled just wide from 20 yards before they took the lead

after 14 minutes. A quick free-kick 10 yards inside the Motherwell

half found its way to Grainger, who was allowed to run forward and

unleash a powerful 25-yard strike into the top corner.

Hearts soon had another chance when Arvydas Novikovas crossed

for Ryan Stevenson but Hateley threw himself in the way of the

midfielder’s header to block.

Motherwell rediscovered their attacking game midway through the

half with the catalyst a good piece of skill from Chris Humphrey

that took him past Grainger.

The winger found Keith Lasley in the box but the Motherwell

skipper was off balance as he shot wide.

MacDonald soon got down well to hold Murphy’s curling effort

from 22 yards and Humphrey came inside and shot just wide from

similar range.

Hearts were sitting deep but lone striker Callum Paterson

managed to get a shot on target from outside the box with Darren

Randolph equal to it.

Motherwell suffered a major blow as the 45 minutes elapsed when

centre-back Shaun Hutchinson went off with what appeared to be a

hamstring injury. Kerr moved inside and Hateley returned to

right-back with Stuart Carswell having to wait until after the

interval to come on in midfield.

Motherwell created a good chance just after the restart as Law’s

diagonal ball found Humphrey and he drove into the box before

squaring for Michael Higdon, who fired just wide from 12 yards.

Stevenson, who turned down a move to Motherwell before rejoining

Hearts in August, just missed the top corner on a Hearts break and

Motherwell almost benefited themselves from a counter-attack but

Higdon shot straight at MacDonald from 18 yards after Humphrey had

dispossessed Grainger.

Hearts brought on Sutton for Novikovas with Paterson moving

wide, and the former Motherwell striker missed a great chance

midway through the half when he headed wide from six yards after

Driver had nodded a half-cleared corner back into the

goalmouth.

The home side were by no means in control but were comfortable

enough and Stuart McCall made a tactical change with 16 minutes

left with Henrik Ojamaa coming on for Murphy and joining Higdon up

front.

They immediately created a chance when Higdon headed Humphrey’s

cross into the path of Law but his header was cleared off the line

by Andy Webster. But Motherwell could not sustain the pressure and

their hopes died when Hearts cleared an injury-time corner after

Randolph had joined his team-mates in attack.