MOTHERWELL defender Tom Aldred has jumped to the defence of teammate Carl McHugh after the centre-back's lapse allowed Hearts to leave Fir Park with three points on Saturday.

The outcome of a tousy affair hinged almost entirely on the slack passback from McHugh just before the half hour that put his keeper Trevor Carson in trouble, with the ball squirming loose from the resultant challenge between Carson and Uche Ikpeazu.

Steven Naismith was first on the scene, anticipating where the ball would pop out from the collision between the home keeper and his strike partner to calmly slot home for his eighth goal of the season.

Aldred was devastated both for Carson - who is awaiting results of a scan on his ankle after being forced off on a stretcher - and McHugh, who he felt had handled the hulking Ikpeazu brilliantly outwith his momentary slip in concentration.

“It’s one of them," said Aldred. "I thought he was brilliant [on Saturday] but his passback was short and then there was a collision. It was a bit of a blur after that but these things happen. We dealt with being 1-0 down when we didn’t deserve to be behind and we’re disappointed that we didn’t get a result.

“When you look at the game as a whole, first half and second half, we were the more dominant side so obviously we’re frustrated not to have taken a point from the game.”

Naismith's goal was a rare bit of composure on a day where it was very much brawn over brain. Sadly for Motherwell, they had plenty of the former but little of the latter when they got into the final third, and apart from a fine early save by Zdenek Zlamal from Curtis Main's well-hit volley, the Hearts keeper had little to trouble him.

Peter Haring did a fine job in front of the visiting defence, while John Souttar and Jimmy Dunne were rock-solid behind him, and for all their domination of territory, Motherwell struggled to create clear-cut opportunities.

Hearts might have wrapped it up on the counter late on, but it's five from five for Craig Levein's men, while Motherwell have only four points from the same number of games.

Aldred isn't concerned though, believing his team will soon get the rewards that their performances have merited, and he is certain also that they will be able to cope even if they are to be without such an integral player such as Carson for an extended period.

It is the latest turmoil for a defensive unit that has lost Cedric Kipre and is without Charles Dunne due to long-term injury, but Aldred says that there is enough depth in the Fir Park ranks to cope.

“That’s football and it’s about how you adapt to these things," he said. "We’ve had to reshuffle but that wasn’t an issue against Hearts because we were comfortable during the match – we were just unlucky.

“It’s important not to be too downhearted. This wasn’t one of those occasions when you come away after a defeat and think there isn’t much to say. We lost to a [fluke] goal and, on another day, we’d have earned at least a point.

“You know that, as the season progresses, good performances will produce points. At this moment in time I’d say that we’re not getting the results we deserve. We had a good win against Dundee last time out we expected to kick on from there and we deserved something today.”