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Jim Jefferies 2nd <-auth None auth-> Steve O'Reilly
[K Lasley 45] Steven Jennings
7 of 007 Mark Reynolds og 44 ;Kevin Kyle pen 60L SPL A

SPL: Motherwell 1 Hearts 2

Dec 15 2010 By Craig Swan

KEVIN KYLE kept his cool and his pregnant missus kept out of the labour ward to ensure Hearts grabbed a sixth straight SPL win.

The towering hitman converted a high-pressure second-half penalty to sink Motherwell and maintain his side's blistering run which has moved them to within three points of second-top Celtic.

But that was just half the story for Kyle on a night when he would have vanished had a text message been received from his good lady Lynn.

Ready to give birth at any time, Kyle's partner would have contacted Hearts officials if she'd gone into labour and he would have been taken off instantly by boss Jim Jefferies.

But the mobiles stayed silent and the Scotland hitman delivered his seventh goal for Hearts to give them their eighth win in nine SPL outings.

It put the seal on a week Motherwell would rather forget after management duo Craig Brown and Archie Knox walked out to join Aberdeen.

With caretaker boss Gordon Young in charge, they were strong for long spells and on course for a point when Keith Lasley scored his first goal in three years on his 200th league outing for the club to negate an own goal from team-mate Mark Reynolds just seconds beforehand.

But Kyle delayed his hospital dash to have the final say.

Jefferies had concerns about a stomach bug which was troubling his squad and when Eggert Jonsson and Ian Black were sick, the manager was forced to alter his plans for the first time in a month. Darren Barr and Ryan Stevenson got the shout.

Jefferies was also taken aback by a rock-hard and icy pitch and his team were slower to adapt to conditions than fired-up Well.

Marius Zaliukas had to make a crucial intervention to deny Nick Blackman after keeper Marian Kello charged recklessly out of his box and Alan Gow would have had a clear sight of the Slovak with a better first touch after Lasley found him in the box.

But Hearts slowly began to gain a foothold. Stevenson and Rudi Skacel came close but Kyle and David Templeton certainly did not.

Kyle could have been forgiven for having his mind elsewhere but no one is sure what Stephen Elliott's excuse was when he blew a terrific chance on the half-hour.

Templeton's wing play was magical and his driven cross found the striker unmarked on the six-yard line.

Elliott chose to adjust his body and volley when he could easily have headed and his careless effort sailed over the bar to the dismay of his boss.

A goal was coming - and, in fact, there were two in a couple of manic minutes before the break.

Hearts surged ahead in bizarre fashion after Darren Randolph kept out a brilliant scissors-kick effort by Templeton.

The ball rebounded from the keeper against back-tracking defender Mark Reynolds and he appeared to knock the ball out of Randolph's hands as the pair surged back to try to stop the ball crossing the line for an ugly own goal.

But Motherwell were off the canvas straight from the restart when Gow released Lasley in the box to slide the ball past Kello to end his personal goal drought and square it.

It was an electrifying end to the first half and while Jefferies would have seethed during the break at his side's sloppy concession so soon after taking a priceless lead, it was nothing more than Young's team deserved.

The pace was relentless after the break. Tom Hateley's tackle in the box was crucial to deny Elliott a free strike from Kyle's centre.

Then Kello pounced to save as Jamie Murphy tried to net Gow's pass but Hearts came agonisingly close to restoring their advantage close to the hour mark.

Barr found Elliott in the box and the Irishman stepped inside beautifully to open up the target. Randolph was exposed but relieved when the striker clattered the bar.

Moments later Hearts won a penalty after Templeton crashed under a clumsy challenge from Stephen Craigan. Kyle ignored Well's protests to ref Stevie O'Reilly and sent Randolph the wrong way from 12 yards.

Jennings' trip on Templeton could have resulted in a second penalty for Hearts but the midfielder lost his cool after O'Reilly saw Zaliukas had cleanly won the ball as Gow fell in the box.

The Scouser, however, was sent off for touching the official on an arm and for that he could consider himself unfortunate.

Taken from the Daily Record

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