IN A scrappy encounter, Hearts and Motherwell did their very best to serve up a winter warmer which did little to warm the heart, but one man did his upmost to increase the temperatures of the support with a memorable goal for the home side.
On-loan Jamaican star Ricardo Fuller scored his second of the afternoon with a breakaway goal which saw him take the ball from inside his own half before evading a chasing pack of Well defenders and rounding the keeper to finish in style to delight the Gorgie supporters.
In a scrappy match which wasn’t for lack of endeavour from either set of players, match official Ian Fyfe helped out as he constantly blew his whistle.
As for bookings, the select band of players who left the pitch without one of either hue must have felt neglected. In a game that was far from dirty, it was obvious to everyone that at least one player would receive his marching orders before the day was out. The only consolation to those left on the pitch will have been the fact that Eddie Forrest was the only one with two bookable offences to his name, the second coming with 30 minutes still to play.
Motherwell had started the game in good form. Despite sitting second bottom of the table, coming into the match they have managed draws against Rangers – albeit fortuitously – Hibs and beaten Aberdeen.
And while Hearts had picked up their game slightly the previous weekend, and derived some confidence from their win over Kilmarnock, they were far from an unbeatable proposition.
A victory for Eric Black’s men would have taken them up the table and placed them neck and neck with their Edinburgh adversaries and, considering the impact the sending-off had on the game, they will feel aggrieved that the one-man advantage hadn’t been in their favour as Hearts’ golden boy Fuller escaped with a yellow card after he appeared to elbow Scott Leitch in the face with four minutes of the first half remaining.
At that stage, it was still 1-0 in Motherwell’s favour, after Stuart Elliot had pounced on Thomas Flogel’s slack pass back, and raced in on goal to finish.
In a match that was still finely balanced, had the Hearts striker been sent off at that stage Motherwell would surely have gone on to buck the trend and score their first away victory over Hearts in recent seasons. But for once, Fyfe seemed to show some leniency and, considering the Jamaican was then involved in two of the three goals, Hearts will owe him an extra bottle of something this Christmas.
Before the referee stepped in to ensure this ultimately proved an easy victory for Craig Levein’s men, they had managed to level matters of their own accord. Yet another free-kick was awarded, and Steve Fulton swung the ball in at the front post. A cluster of players made a mad dash to that area, with Fuller arriving ahead of the rest to head it past Stevie Woods.
However, while Hearts were probably edging things in terms of play thanks to the composure and passing influence exerted by Fulton, the match could still have swung either way.
The marching orders came in the 60th minute for a second bookable offence and, within four minutes, the match was beyond Motherwell, a corner from Fulton being headed into the net by Kevin McKenna.
The win that would secure a jump up into the top six for the home side was secured there and then, but the best was yet to come.
In the 79th minute, Fuller broke away from the defence and charged in on goal. He rounded the keeper before dinking the ball into the net.