MOTHERWELL had taken maximum points from their previous five away matches in the SPL before this game but ultimately they were undone at the sixth time of asking by a club torn apart by off-field strife.
Sadly for ’Well the crisis afflicting Hearts off the park has not manifested itself on it.
Jambos players were paid their October and November wages late and have yet to receive wages for December.
Players have openly admitted to wanting away from the club and the squad put their grievances in writing to the SPL who will rule early next week on the complaint.
Yet you would never have known from their showing on Christmas Eve as they outplayed the league’s current third place side from start to finish.
It comes on the back of a 4-0 win over Dunfermline and an impressive display in defeat at Parkhead against in-form Celtic.
As Motherwell manager Stuart McCall alluded to before kick-off, some Hearts players were in the shop window after the club had admitted they would need to sell players during the January transfer window.
Any scouts at Tynecastle on Saturday would have been suitable impressed by each and every home player as they cruised to a 2-0 victory thanks to first half goals from Ian Black and David Templeton.
Motherwell had not tasted defeat in seven weeks and given their recent brilliant away form they can be forgiven for having an off day. Certainly this was the feeling of McCall at full-time who was disappointed but not disheartened by the display.
And the travelling support, boosted by the fact the club subsidised travel for all Supporters Association buses, were in full voice throughout the 90 minutes, something which has been a welcome feature at away games this season.
Nevertheless the Dunfermline game this evening at Fir Park cannot come quick enough for Motherwell as they look to put the result behind them and pick up what would be a first home win since September.
Any signs of vulnerability in the ranks have been dealt with expertly so far this season which should give Motherwell fans optimism going into the final match of the year.
It helps they are facing a side tonight (Wednesday) who currently ship goals for fun and are propping up the SPL table.
Dunfermline were also confidently dispatched with by Motherwell, 4-2, back in August at East End Park.
But on Christmas Eve, Hearts, who finished third in the SPL last season, proved the quality they still have at their disposal against Motherwell.
If the Jambos do hold on to their top players in January they will provide an enormous threat to Motherwell’s aspirations of clinging on to third spot come the end of the season.
Tom Hateley has been somewhat of an unsung hero at right back for Motherwell this season but even he will be the first to admit he was given the run-around by talented winger David Templeton.
Time and again the former Scotland under-21 ace got the better of Hateley down the left flank and it was his drive and energy which led to Hearts second goal of the afternoon on 28 minutes.
Templeton left Hateley for dead near the halfway line before delivering a simple pass into the path of Stephen Elliott who tapped the ball home from close range.
The impressive Ian Black, often criticised for his physical approach during games, had given Hearts a lead after 17 minutes when he picked up the ball just outside the area before delivering a low left footed drive which found its way past goalkeeper Darren Randolph.
Hearts had further opportunities to add to their tally and Motherwell rarely looked like threatening Marian Kello’s goal, the keeper having time to play up to the home fans’ festive tomfoolery on more than one occasion.
- Stuart McCall is set to make Estonian hitman Henrik Ojamaa Motherwell’s first signing of the January transfer window.
The 20-year-old has impressed McCall on a trial at Fir Park and will be offered a short-term deal until the end of the 2011/12 campaign.
The under-21 internationalist is a free agent after quitting Finnish club RoPS under freedom of contract.
He has previously spent spells with Derby County and Stafford Rangers in England as well as Alemannia in Germany and Fortuna Sittard in Holland.