Five things we learned from Motherwell 2 - 1 Hearts

Craig Fowler gives his take after Carl McHugh's tremendous goal see Motherwell through to the last four of the Scottish Cup at the hands of Hearts.
The decision to start Ross Callachan over David Milinkovic was a curious one. Picture: SNSThe decision to start Ross Callachan over David Milinkovic was a curious one. Picture: SNS
The decision to start Ross Callachan over David Milinkovic was a curious one. Picture: SNS

McHugh will be a miss

A section of Motherwell’s support aren’t convinced by Carl McHugh as the screener in front of the back four, but he put in a terrific performance against Hearts. Not only did he belt in a stunning winner, he also sparkled in his role in front of the back four, breaking up attacks and driving forward.

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Regardless of who they face in the semi they’ll miss his defensive solidity. Gigi Bigirimana is a more reliable passer, but he lacks the positional discipline of the skipper, who makes life much easier on the defence.

Hearts can have few complaints

The visitors may have been on top for a lot of the second half, and they could have had a late penalty when Andy Rose appeared to handle inside the box. However, what they should be lamenting the most is a dire first-half display where they didn’t get going. In what was their most important games of their season to this point, they were dreadful in possession and sloppy at the back.

Motherwell’s front three are getting there

It wasn’t a complete performance as Nadir Ciftci dropped out of things after the break, while Craig Tanner’s influence on the game waned also, but there can be no doubt that Motherwell’s attacking trio gave Hearts a torrid time during the first half.

With the inventive Tanner playing in behind the mercurial Ciftci and brute force of Curtis Main, there’s enough firepower there to give any side a scare. The more they play with each other the better understand they should create... just in time to play for a place in the final.

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Levein’s team selection can be a little strange at times

The decision to play Ross Callachan over David Milinkovic is one that Hearts fans will never understand. It was no coincidence that the visitors upped their game considerably after the winger’s introduction.
It would’ve made some sense had the former played in a central midfield trio, but he was one of two No.10s in a 3-4-3 system. Callachan, for all his battling qualities, doesn’t have the technique to be a top flight attacker. 
Then there was the decision to play Marcus Godinho over Michael Smith. It didn’t hurt too much as the debutant put in a decent enough display, but starting a rookie over a reliable veteran like Smith in a cup quarter-final away from home is something which deserves to be scrutinised.

Robinson is terrifically reactive

The always say it’s better to be proactive and reactive - well, those people clearly haven’t come across Motherwell boss Stephen Robinson.

The head coach is known for changing his formation during matches and he did so to great effect again in this match.

Hearts were well on top after the equaliser and there only looked like being one winner. Instead of desperately hoping his players could figure things out, Robinson rearranged the pieces on the board, going from their preferred 3-5-2 to 4-2-3-1. It stopped the constant flow of Hearts attacks, saw the hosts come back into the game and created the platform for McHugh’s late winner.