London Hearts Supporters Club

Report Index--> 2009-10--> All for 20091230
<-Page <-Team Wed 30 Dec 2009 Hearts 1 Motherwell 0 Team-> Page->
<-Srce <-Type Scotsman ------ Report Type-> Srce->
Csaba Laszlo <-auth auth-> Crawford Allan
4 of 004 Michael Stewart 39L SPL H

Hearts 1 - 0 Motherwell: Michael Stewart makes it three in row for resurgent Hearts

Published Date: 31 December 2009
HEARTS' determination to get this match played was rewarded last night when they recorded their third victory in a row and strengthened their hold on fifth place.
They had previously been above Motherwell only on goal difference, but a first-half goal from Michael Stewart was enough to give them the result which opens up a three-point gap.

The pitch was in remarkably good condition given the adverse weather, which continued during the game with a succession of snowy showers. It had in fact been the state of the walkways surrounding the grounds which had put the game at risk of being postponed, but hours of work yesterday morning ensured it was given the go-ahead following a lunchtime inspection.

Having beaten Celtic and Falkirk in the ten days before this fixture, Hearts can now go into Sunday's Edinburgh derby with their confidence higher than it has been all season. They are still a considerable way short of the heights they reached last season, but they are at least steadily growing in confidence.

A mix-up in the Hearts defence almost handed Motherwell the lead in the second minute. Lee Wallace prepared to nod a high ball back to Marian Kello, but, seeing Lucas Jutkiewicz close in on his goalkeeper, headed out the way instead. His attempted clearance got no further than the edge of the penalty area, from where Jim O'Brien lobbed it first time towards goal. Fortunately for the home team, however, O'Brien had had to stretch to reach the ball and did not get much power on his shot, which allowed Kello to scramble back and knock the ball behind for a corner.

Kello's opposite number John Ruddy was soon called into action, and had to extend himself to tip away a Wallace cross before Jamie Mole could get his head to it.

It was a lively beginning to the game by both sides, but curiously in the circumstances Hearts looked less at ease with themselves in those opening stages of the contest than their opponents. Despite having had little time to get to know new manager Craig Brown, Motherwell were playing more crisply, their 4-5-1 formation in which Jutkiewicz was the sole striker being the first sign of the former Scotland manager's influence.

The Fir Park side had to be well organised to deal with a corner from Suso Santana, a replacement for David Templeton in what was the only change from the Hearts line-up which defeated Falkirk on Boxing Day. The Spaniard's flighted cross deep into the box was headed towards goal by Jose Goncalves, but Steven Hammell was in position on the line to head clear.

Hearts were then forced into a change when Mole took a knock. Christian Nade came on as a straight replacement for the striker, and swiftly showed his eagerness to become involved with a dribble from the corner flag which ended in an innocuous shot. Five minutes later the burly Frenchman had another half-chance to break the deadlock when he took up possession from Scott Robinson, his diminutive striking partner, some 30 yards out. Nade made space for himself by drifting inside the first defender to confront him. Again, however, the finish was weak.

Having twice shown his persistence to no avail, Nade tried again for a third time five minutes from half time, and on this occasion help was on hand. Claiming possession close to the goalline on the left, Nade strove to make room for himself despite the close attention of several defenders. He was close to losing control as Ruddy came out to close him down, but by sliding to the ground he was able to get a pass to Michael Stewart, and the captain side– footed home to score his third goal in as many games

Shortly after the restart Nade almost laid on a second goal following a swiftly taken free-kick. Racing up the left, he crossed first time for Suso, but the winger was at full stretch and could only volley over the bar.

Motherwell had begun to trouble Kello with high balls, and after ten minutes of the second half brought on John Sutton to give them added height in attack. Sutton took some time to get involved, however, as Hearts enjoyed a period of dominance which had Motherwell pressed back inside their own half.

When the visiting side did break out, they immediately came close to equalising, with a snap shot from Jutkiewcz being saved by Kello. Hearts' one-goal lead did not look secure, and they wisely continued to push up as much as they could in search of the second rather than sitting back.

As the half wore on, though, Motherwell upped the tempo in search of the equaliser. Substitute Keith Lasley had a dangerous shot blocked, and O'Brien worked tirelessly as he sought to create an opening.

Two minutes from time Mark Reynolds had a free shot at goal from 20 yards following a sustained period of pressure, but his shot was off target and Hearts were able to hold on.

Taken from the Scotsman

<-Page <-Team Wed 30 Dec 2009 Hearts 1 Motherwell 0 Team-> Page->
| Home | Contact Us | Credits | © |