Motherwell held off a battling Hearts side to claim a sixth straight win and consign their hosts to a third straight defeat.

John Sutton ghosted in behind the Hearts defence to evade goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and give the Steelmen a deserved lead.

But the home side improved in the second half with Ryan Stevenson's cross hitting the woodwork.

And Stevenson, David Smith and Jamie Hamill all had efforts saved.

The result moves Stuart McCall's side to within a point of second-place Aberdeen, while Hearts are now 20 points adrift at the bottom of the Scottish Premiership.

Iain Vigurs and Ryan Stevenson

Hearts showed much more determination in the second half but could not breach 'Well

A save by Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald spared the blushes of team-mate Jordan McGhee early on, with the defender having turned James McFadden's low cross towards goal.

McFadden's guile unlocked the home defence moments later but Iain Vigurs' tame shot was easily gathered by MacDonald.

Motherwell were the more active side in attack throughout the first half and Lionel Ainsworth was eager to add to his tally of four goals in as many games.

The winger was foiled by Scott Robinson after racing in on goal and getting away a shot before his next effort flashed over the crossbar.

And the on-loan Rotherham player drew a superb save from MacDonald with a driven half-volley moments later.

But when the Motherwell opener did arrive, it was from a former Hearts player.

Sutton latched on to a Vigurs pass and, with the Hearts defence in disarray, the striker rounded MacDonald and clipped home, albeit with the help of a nick off defender Dylan McGowan's boot.

The procession of attacks towards the Hearts goal continued in the second half with Ainsworth's poor touch allowing MacDonald to clear following another inviting Vigurs through ball.

Hearts had struggled to make in-roads to Gunnar Nielsen's goal but Stevenson had the home fans on their feet when his cross clattered off the crossbar.

Nielsen then beat away David Smith's powerful blast, making Motherwell's lead look all the more slender.

Stevenson was next to test Nielsen and, from the resulting corner, Jamie Walker's rising effort flew just over.

Walker had another effort blocked by Nielsen and there were some more nervous moments for the Motherwell defence when a Hearts corner pinballed off a couple of heads in a crowded six-yard box.

Looking for a second to end the match as a contest, substitute Henri Anier buried a rebound shot after Sutton's initial effort had been well saved but a foul by Sutton meant no goal.

There was still time for Hearts to carve out another chance to level and Hamill took his time before poking a shot towards goal, only for Nielsen to block with his knees.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Heart of Midlothian

  • 01 MacDonald
  • 30 McGhee
  • 03 McHattie (Walker - 54' )
  • 02 Hamill
  • 16 McKay
  • 05 McGowan
  • 18 Carrick (Nicholson - 73' )
  • 08 Robinson
  • 12 Paterson Booked
  • 07 Stevenson
  • 17 Smith (King - 80' )

Substitutes

  • 14 Walker
  • 19 King
  • 20 Tapping
  • 21 Hamilton
  • 26 King
  • 28 Nicholson
  • 29 Oliver

Motherwell

  • 12 Nielsen
  • 04 Ramsden
  • 03 Hammell Booked
  • 18 Carswell
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 06 McManus
  • 25 Ainsworth (Francis-Angol - 74' )
  • 14 Lasley
  • 09 Sutton
  • 07 McFadden (Anier - 74' )
  • 11 Vigurs (Lawson - 84' )

Substitutes

  • 08 Lawson
  • 16 McHugh
  • 17 Francis-Angol
  • 21 Stewart
  • 22 Moore
  • 23 Murray
  • 24 Anier
Ref: William Collum
Att: 12,888

Match Stats

Shots

10 13

On target

5 5

Corners

5 4

Fouls

11 16

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Hearts 0, Motherwell 1.

90:00 +3:15 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Hearts 0, Motherwell 1.

90:00 +0:55 Booking

Booking Steven Hammell (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

90:00 +0:48

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

90:00 +0:48

Jamie Walker (Hearts) wins a free kick on the left wing.

89:41

Foul by Jordan McGhee (Hearts).

89:41

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

88:58

Attempt saved. Jamie Hamill (Hearts) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

85:58

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Brad McKay.

85:13

Brad McKay (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

85:13

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

83:28 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Paul Lawson replaces Iain Vigurs because of an injury.

79:48 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Billy King replaces David Smith.

79:29

Attempt missed. Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is too high.

79:07

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Simon Ramsden.

76:59

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

76:48

Attempt saved. Callum Paterson (Hearts) header from very close range is saved in the top centre of the goal.

76:10

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.

75:57

Attempt saved. Henri Anier (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

74:15

Scott Robinson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

74:15

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

73:21 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Henri Anier replaces James McFadden.

73:17 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Zaine Francis-Angol replaces Lionel Ainsworth.

72:54 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Sam Nicholson replaces Dale Carrick.

70:52

David Smith (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

70:52

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

67:42

Callum Paterson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

67:42

Foul by James McFadden (Motherwell).

67:06

Attempt saved. Jamie Walker (Hearts) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

66:00

Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

65:58

Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

65:24

Attempt missed. Jamie Walker (Hearts) left footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the left.

65:02

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.

64:44

Attempt saved. Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

61:52

Dale Carrick (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

61:52

Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).

61:06

Foul by Dale Carrick (Hearts).

61:06

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

58:42

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

58:42

Callum Paterson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

56:45

Attempt saved. David Smith (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

53:20 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Hearts. Jamie Walker replaces Kevin McHattie.

51:44

Corner, Hearts. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

50:36

Hand ball by Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell).

48:23

Attempt missed. Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

47:47

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

47:45

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

47:22

Delay in match (Hearts).

46:50

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Dylan McGowan.

46:41

Attempt blocked. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

45:00

Second Half begins Hearts 0, Motherwell 1.

45:00 +1:05 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Hearts 0, Motherwell 1.

45:00 +0:45

Attempt saved. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

45:00 +0:05

Attempt missed. James McFadden (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

44:16

Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

43:37

Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

43:37

Foul by Callum Paterson (Hearts).

43:06

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

43:06

Scott Robinson (Hearts) wins a free kick on the left wing.

41:14

Foul by Simon Ramsden (Motherwell).

41:14

Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

39:43 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Hearts 0, Motherwell 1. John Sutton (Motherwell) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left to the bottom right corner. Assisted by Iain Vigurs.

39:00

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

38:57

Foul by Jamie Hamill (Hearts).

38:08

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

38:08

Jamie Hamill (Hearts) wins a free kick on the right wing.

36:45

James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

36:45

Foul by Brad McKay (Hearts).

35:41

Foul by Iain Vigurs (Motherwell).

35:41

Callum Paterson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

35:09

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Dylan McGowan.

33:59

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Jordan McGhee.

33:20

Attempt saved. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

31:10

Attempt missed. Ryan Stevenson (Hearts) right footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

27:38

Attempt missed. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

27:13

Foul by Dale Carrick (Hearts).

27:13

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

25:22

Callum Paterson (Hearts) wins a free kick on the right wing.

25:22

Foul by Steven Hammell (Motherwell).

24:55

Attempt missed. James McFadden (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

24:42

Attempt blocked. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box is blocked.

19:31

Hand ball by Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell).

13:51

Foul by Jamie Hamill (Hearts).

13:51

Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

12:42

Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is too high.

9:24

Attempt saved. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom right corner.

8:07

Attempt blocked. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

7:19

Foul by Ryan Stevenson (Hearts).

7:19

James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

4:54

Foul by Callum Paterson (Hearts).

4:54

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

4:43

Callum Paterson (Hearts) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

4:43

Foul by Iain Vigurs (Motherwell).

3:19

Foul by Jamie Hamill (Hearts).

3:19

James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

1:42

Attempt blocked. Dale Carrick (Hearts) right footed shot from the left side of the box is blocked.

1:01

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

0:58

Delay over. They are ready to continue.

0:22

Foul by Brad McKay (Hearts).

0:22

Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

Live data and text provided by our data suppliers