Arbroath 1-0 Motherwell
A trip north for Mark McGhee’s men resulted in a 1-0 defeat in their second pre-season fixture.
In windy conditions on the coast, a large number of youngsters got a run out, with the average age of the starting eleven that ended the game just 18.
Teenager Jack McMillan was the only unchanged player for the Fir Parkers and new signing Dean Brill made his Motherwell debut and put in a good display in front of the travelling fans.
In the opening exchanges, Ainsworth broke down the right but his attempted ball was cut out by the back tracking defence.
Brill was called into action after three minutes, but Hester’s effort from outside the box never looked to trouble the debutant, who gathered comfortably.
The home side won the ball in midfield in the fifth minute and Omar Kader broke down the right, but his dinked effort dropped well over the bar.
Some neat football down the left for the Fir Parkers culminated in a good challenge on Mackin on the edge of the area.
Ainsworth curled an accurate cross into the area in the 15th minute, but the Arbroath stopper Robbie Mutch gathered it well.
Both sides were looking to get the ball on the deck and play good football, with the Steelmen enjoying some great spells of possession, but generally hadn’t tested the Arbroath keeper too much in the opening quarter of an hour.
In the 20th minute, Brill was quick to rush off his line to gather an over-hit ball over the top, as the new signing settled in quickly.
Switching to the left, Ainsworth tormented the opposition right-back as he worked his way to the by-line, putting in a fine cross that was well defended and cleared by the home side.
Lionel Ainsworth looked to be the greatest threat in the opening 25 minutes, as the winger put in another fine cross, but on the stretch, Mackin headed over.
Just before the half-hour mark, Arbroath had their first real chance of the afternoon, but Wilson’s shot was collected easily by Brill.
A corner straight off the training ground resulted in a flick at goal from Moore after Kennedy headed Turnbull’s deep cross back across goal.
A fizzing cross into the box from the right looked destined to be headed home by the onrushing Ainsworth, but a slight head on the cross took it out of the midfielder’s path.
In a quiet first half, neither keeper had too much to do as the two sides went in to the break goalless.
Mark McGhee made just the one change at half-time, as Allan Campbell replaced Dylan Mackin.
The Fir Parkers won a corner early in the half, after a neat ball from Kennedy was picked up by Ainsworth, who’s cross was deflected behind.
The manager made his second change of the day on the 50th minute, as youngster Josh Stachini replaced Jack McMillan.
And immediately after the substitution, ‘Well broke on the counter, as Ainsworth collected the ball just inside the opposition half and drove into the box, but his low driven shot was blocked behind for a corner.
On the 60th minute, a Motherwell corner was headed behind and from the following set-play, Arbroath broke away on the counter, but the danger was quelled by the recovering defence.
Another change on the hour mark saw Craig Moore make way for 15-year-old striker James Scott.
And five minutes later, McGhee brought on Luke Watt for David Ferguson.
A short header from Kieran Kennedy was picked up by Arbroath substitute Junior Oder and the best opportunity of the game led to nothing, as the shot past Brill failed to hit the target.
But the visitors responded well, as Cadden broke forward but his effort on goal lacked the desired power and was saved.
In the 70th minute, the home support thought they had taken the lead.
A fierce strike on goal from Wilson rippled the side netting, with a few cheers cut short by the referee’s whistle indicating a goal kick for the Fir Parkers.
And after that chance, Motherwell made another change, with Ainsworth departing for Jake Hastie.
On the 77th minute the deadlock was nearly broken. MacLean’s loose pass was collected by Doris, who watched on as his speculative effort from 25 yards came crashing back off the crossbar.
With six minutes remaining, a scramble in the box following a corner wasn’t cleared by the ‘Well and a good effort on goal from Hamilton forced a brilliant reaction save from debutant Brill, who tipped it over the bar and saw his clean sheet remain intact.
The manager then made another substitution, as youngster Jordan Armstrong replaced Davie Turnbull.
But with just minutes to go, the home side took the lead on an afternoon of few chances.
Doris was allowed too much time at the back post, and he curled a neat finish past Brill into the far corner.
Arbroath’s confidence grew and it could have been two for the hosts, as Oder fired a shot over the bar in the dying seconds.
But it remained 1-0 as the final whistle went at Gayfield. It was a quiet afternoon for the fans in Arbroath, but as the pre-season preparations carry on, there was a lot of positives for Mark McGhee and the squad to take from their trip north.