Football: Slick Spencer hurts Hearts

Heart of Midlothian 1 McSwegan 8 Motherwell 1 Spencer 83 Half- time: 1-0 Attendance: 12,514

A TALE of two strikers provided Craig Brown and everyone else at Tynecastle with an engrossing afternoon, yet he will hope it is his current choice who can write Scotland's ticket to the European Championship finals.

A repeat of Gary McSwegan's predatory talents against England would beckon Euro 2000 closer, but the Hearts goalscorer's eighth-minute opener was deservedly cancelled out seven minutes from the end by yesterday's man, John Spencer, who suffered disappointment that day at Wembley in Euro 96.

The last time these teams had met the encounter had been abandoned in a September monsoon. However, Edinburgh's glorious sunshine ensured there was little chance of a repeat and Gary McSwegan soon illuminated Tynecastle even further. The Scotland striker displayed the kind of predatory instinct Brown, the Scotland manager who was watching from the stand, would love next Saturday as he headed Hearts in front.

McSwegan, though, owed much to Steve Fulton's incisive pass and Gary Naysmith's determined run to the goal-line before the latter delivered a sublime cross which invited the former Rangers striker to smack the ball beyond Steve Woods.

Ironically, Hearts are trying to bolster their strikeforce and have made a pounds 550,000 bid for a man at the other end, Lee McCulloch. The Motherwell forward soon began to hog everyone's attention. He was booked for crashing into Gary Locke, and was then rashly floored on the edge of the box by Paul Ritchie, allowing Ged Brannan to curl a low free-kick round the wall which the home goalkeeper, Gilles Rousset, splendidly pushed clear.

However, Rousset's poor kickout in the 33rd minute almost proved costly, as Pat Nevin cleverly volleyed the ball into McCulloch's path, but the French goalkeeper atoned by parrying the striker's fierce shot.

Motherwell's pursuit of an equaliser in the second half was relentless, and Hearts could scarcely draw breath. The relief was tangible around Tynecastle in the 49th minute when McCulloch connected with Nevin's cross to produce a diving header which flew past Rousset but crashed off a post and stayed out.

Motherwell, though, summoned up one last effort and Spencer finally grabbed a merited equaliser with seven minutes left. Benito Kemble's 40-yard diagonal pass was the key, allowing Stephen McMillan to deliver a low cross into the stretched Hearts defence.

Spencer pounced and hit a shot on the turn which ought not to have beaten Rousset, but the keeper had gone down too early and the ball agonisingly looped over him into the net.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test