London Hearts Supporters Club

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<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Stephen Frail <-auth None auth-> Stuart Dougal
[R McCormack pen 22]
6 of 011 ----- SC A

McCormack hits spot for Motherwell

A FIRST-HALF penalty from Ross McCormack was enough to give Motherwell victory in this Scottish Cup fourth-round replay last night. Playing their first game at home since the death last month of Phil O'Donnell, Mark McGhee's team always looked that little bit sharper than Hearts, who carved out few real scoring chances.
Played on a heavy pitch, the match was short on creativity and genuine incident. Hearts were nowhere near as lively as they had been in the first half of their win against Hibs last Saturday, and once Motherwell had taken the lead their passage through to a fifth-round tie at home to Dundee appeared assured.

Michael Stewart, who had been a doubt because of a vomiting bug, passed a fitness test and took his place in a five-man Hearts midfield. The inclusion of Saulius Mikoliunas at the expense of Andy Driver in that quintet was Stephen Frail's only change from the line-up which began the Edinburgh derby three days earlier. Deividas Cesnauskis moved from the right to the left wing to accommodate his fellow-Lithuanian.

Motherwell also made just the one change, bringing in Jim Paterson in place of Stephen McGarry. Paterson had been due to take over from Marc Fitzpatrick, but Fitzpatrick was reinstated after McGarry was ill during the warm-up, apparently suffering from a similar ailment to Stewart.

Kick-off was delayed by ten minutes to give the unexpectedly large crowd more time to get into the ground, but once the match did get under way it soon developed into a keenly contested affair.

After ten minutes or so, Motherwell had their opponents under pressure with three corners in rapid succession from the left, but McCormack was unable to put in a suitably threatening cross. His first two place-kicks were both sliced out of play by Andrius Velicka, and at the third time of asking the Hearts defence managed to clear their lines cleanly.

In the 21st minute, though, McCormack caused far more trouble for Hearts by winning a penalty. Running onto the ball in space, he unleashed a shot from 15 yards out. Eggert Jonsson blocked the attempt on goal, using his arm in the process according to the referee. Hearts' protests at the award were minimal at most, and a minute later McCormack himself stepped up to take the penalty, which he sent calmly into the left corner of Steve Banks's net.

The home team enjoyed a spell of dominance after taking the lead, and Hearts, with only Velicka playing up front, found it hard to make inroads into the Motherwell half with what scant possession they were winning. Velicka was able to get in front of his marker more often than not and knock down the balls that were played up to him, but his lay-offs tended to fall for an opponent rather than a team-mate.

As the half petered out in undistinguished fashion, it was evident that Hearts were going to require a radical change in approach if they were to maintain an interest in the competition.

Motherwell were looking increasingly comfortable on the ball, rightly regarding it as only a matter of time before they could force a way through and score the second goal which would surely be enough for them to claim a place in the last 16.

With only four outfield substitutes allowed in the competition, the options for Frail looked limited. Neither Lee Wallace nor Kestutis Ivaskevicius could be expected to make a difference further up the field from their accustomed positions, while the two forward substitutes Frail had chosen held little promise. Christian Nade has failed to impress in his recent outings, while Ricardas Beniusis has only had one competitive start for the club – in the opening game of the season, also against Hibs, when his play was embarrassingly poor.

In the event, it was Motherwell who made a change first, when Chris Porter was forced off after picking up a knock. He was replaced by Darren Smith

a couple of minutes before the break.

Hearts then altered both their personnel and formation for the start of the second half. Nade came on to partner Velicka up front, Cesnauskis went off, and Jonsson moved to the right of what was now a four-man midfield, with Mikoliunas switching wings.

Nade at least showed a willingness to head directly for goal the first few times he received the ball, and one of his runs was only halted when Keith Lasley brought him down and picked up the first booking of the evening. Robbie Neilson soon got the second for persistent fouling as the game threatened to lose any coherent shape.

Another, unexpected replacement was then made, when Stuart Dougal had to leave the pitch. Craig Thomson, the fourth official, took over refereeing duties.

With a little over an hour played, Hearts had a double opportunity to equalise from a Jonsson cross
. Velicka shot first time from the edge of the six-yard box but his shot came back off the post, and Palazuelos sent the rebound over.

In the last ten minutes Nade brought a good save out of Smith after a run up the byeline, but moments later the Frenchman's control let him down when he should have been through on goal, and Smith smothered.

Paul Quinn and Mikoliunas were both booked in the closing minutes after a clash on Hearts' left wing. Jonsson followed them as the game entered its five minutes of time added on.

Motherwell: Smith, Quinn, Paterson, Reynolds, Craigan, Lasley, Hughes, Fitzpatrick, Porter (Smith 44), Clarkson, McCormack. Subs not used: Meldrum, McLean, Archdeacon, Murphy.

Hearts: Banks, Neilson, Berra, Karipidis, Goncalves, Mikoliunas, Jonsson, Palazuelos, Stewart, Cesnauskis (Nade 46), Velicka. Subs not used: Bjornsson, Wallace, Ivaskevicius, Beniusis.

Taken from the Scotsman

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