Alan Gow struck with a matter of seconds left on the clock to send the Steelmen into their first semi-final since 2006.
The dramatic finale was not in keeping with the rest of a scrappy encounter, which was only really lively in a vibrant opening 15 minutes.
However that was rendered well and truly irrelevant as Gow latched onto a Prince Buaben ‘clearance’ which hit Dusan Pernis’ post and fired home emphatically.
It was an unusual quirk of coincidence which saw The Steelmen line up against United so soon after playing them in the SPL – with The Arabs hunting for revenge and ‘Well looking for a repeat score-line and performance.
Unsurprisingly, after a lacklustre display from his men on Saturday, Peter Houston made a couple of changes to his starting eleven. The scorer of the first own goal, Scott Severin, dropped out to be replaced by young Keith Watson with Sean Dillon moving into the centre of defence. Scott Robertson came in to replace the injured Craig Conway.
Equally predictable was Craig Brown’s decision to stick with the same team as his side looked to defeat The Terrors twice in the space of three days – and set up a Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-final date.
Houston’s men emerged like a team keen to right some wrongs, and within three minutes United had carved out a decent chance. A hopeful long ball into the box found the towering Garry Kenneth and his knock-down was latched onto by David Goodwillie, but the gifted 21-year old could only poke his snapshot into the grateful arms of Darren Randolph.
The ‘Well gaffer was repeating his occasional ploy of starting with Chris Humphrey on the left flank, and the Jamaican-born winger carved out Motherwell’s immediate response to that threat. Humphrey hared down the left before surging in-field, a perfectly timed pass released Jamie Murphy and his cross-cum-shot which narrowly evaded Alan Gow and Nick Blackman sliding at the back stick.
Two minutes later, in an excellent opening to the encounter, a lovely Jamie Murphy pass slipped Gow clear in the box, but at a tight angle the former Rangers man could only fire into the arms of Dusan Pernis.
There was a morbid predictability about Willie Collum being involved in a controversial penalty decision following his display on Sunday, and it didn’t take long – 14 minutes in fact.
Scott Robertson played a beautifully incisive pass into the left channel of the ‘Well box for Paul Dixon, and the United left back lashed a decent effort on target. The shot was parried, and with Scott Robertson ready to tap in Steve Jennings made a last-ditch tackle from behind.
The visitors screamed for a penalty, but Collum said no, and it looked like the correct decision.
Amazingly, at almost the exact same time as Lasley went off injured on Saturday – 19 minutes in – Jamie Murphy hobbled off to be replaced by John Sutton. The Scotland under-21 star looked in some distress and all ‘Well fans will be hoping he won’t be out for too long.
It took until just after the half-hour mark for ‘Well to carve out another couple of efforts on goal; firstly coming from a long-distance in-swinging free-kick from Tom Hateley which evaded everyone and almost beat Dusan Pernis at the far post.
That was followed five minutes later by a superb one-two between Blackman and Gow on the edge of the United box which set the on-loan Blackburn man through on goal, but Dusan Pernis was quick off his line to block.
‘Well started the second half the way the ended the first, and had another half-chance as Chris Humphrey whipped in a cracker of a cross which narrowly evaded Nick Blackman in the centre.
Unfortunately that proved to be the only chance of note until nearly the hour-mark when Alan Gow fed Nick Blackman on the edge of the box and the bustling striker flashed a shot narrowly wide of Pernis’ left-hand post. That was quickly followed by another dangerous cross by Humphrey which Pernis was forced to fist away, as ‘Well attempted to nick an opener in a disappointing second period.
With less than 15 minutes left on the clock Pernis was called into action again, this time a stinging effort from Nick Blackman was parried wide of goal. The shot may have been drifting wide but the Slovakian stopper was taking no chances.
With the clock winding down Fir Park erupted as The Steelmen took the lead. Amazingly it was nearly another own goal by United, after the brace at the weekend. A Tom Hateley corner was sliced against the post by a Dundee United body, and Alan Gow reacted quickest to lash home the rebound from close range.
An almighty stramash on the line proved the closest the visitors came to an equiliser, with a long throw causing havoc in the box, forcing a top save from Randolph at the back post. Amongst bodies flying everywhere ‘Well got it clear to rapturous cheers from the home fans.
[tab:As it happened]
90+3 FULL TIME The final whistle goes and the game is over.
90+2 Scott Robertson fouled by Ross Forbes, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Barry Douglas.
90+1 Garry Kenneth concedes a free kick for a foul on John Sutton. Direct free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
89′ SUB Jonathan Page comes on in place of Alan Gow.
87′ Danny Cadamarteri challenges Mark Reynolds unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
87′ SUB Andis Shala is brought on as a substitute for David Robertson.
87′ SUB (Motherwell) makes a substitution, with Ross Forbes coming on for Steve Jennings.
85′ Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley played to the near post,
85′ GOAL – Alan Gow: Motherwell 1 – 0 Dundee Utd Alan Gow finds the net with a goal from inside the six-yard box low into the middle of the goal. Motherwell 1-0 Dundee Utd.
85′ The referee blows for offside. Direct free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
84′ Unfair challenge on Barry Douglas by Steve Jennings results in a free kick. Dusan Pernis takes the direct free kick.
84′ BOOKING Steve Jennings shown a yellow card.
83′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on John Sutton by David Robertson. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley.
82′ Centre by David Goodwillie.
81′ David Goodwillie crosses the ball, Stephen Craigan makes a clearance.
79′ Foul by Scott Robertson on Nick Blackman, free kick awarded. Tom Hateley crosses the ball from the free kick right-footed from left channel, save made by Dusan Pernis.
78′ The official flags Jon Daly offside. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
78′ SUB Danny Cadamarteri is brought on as a substitute for Jon Daly.
76′ Nick Blackman takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.
75′ Chris Humphrey produces a cross, save by Dusan Pernis.
74′ Morgaro Gomis sends in a cross, Close range headed effort by Garry Kenneth misses to the right of the goal.
74′ Barry Douglas delivers the ball, clearance made by Alan Gow.
74′ Short corner taken by Barry Douglas from the right by-line.
74′ Centre by David Goodwillie, Mark Reynolds gets a block in.
73′ Keith Watson delivers the ball.
72′ The official flags David Goodwillie offside. Darren Randolph takes the direct free kick.
71′ Keith Watson challenges John Sutton unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick crossed right-footed by Tom Hateley.
69′ Inswinging corner taken by Barry Douglas from the right by-line played to the near post, Tom Hateley manages to make a clearance.
69′ The ball is delivered by Prince Buaben, Stephen Craigan manages to make a clearance.
68′ John Sutton produces a right-footed shot from just outside the penalty box that misses to the left of the goal.
65′ Corner taken by Tom Hateley.
65′ Chris Humphrey delivers the ball, blocked by Barry Douglas.
64′ Sean Dillon challenges Nick Blackman unfairly and gives away a free kick. Stevie Hammell restarts play with the free kick.
63′ Centre by Nick Blackman, blocked by Sean Dillon.
61′ The ball is delivered by Chris Humphrey, blocked by Barry Douglas.
61′ Chris Humphrey delivers the ball, save by Dusan Pernis.
60′ Keith Watson produces a cross, Steven Saunders makes a clearance.
59′ The ball is crossed by Tom Hateley, Garry Kenneth makes a clearance.
59′ David Robertson concedes a free kick for a foul on John Sutton. Stevie Hammell restarts play with the free kick.
58′ Effort on goal by Prince Buaben from inside the penalty box misses to the right of the target.
56′ Nick Blackman produces a left-footed shot from just outside the box that misses to the right of the goal.
55′ Nick Blackman delivers the ball.
53′ The ball is swung over by Stevie Hammell, clearance by Garry Kenneth.
51′ Foul by Nick Blackman on Morgaro Gomis, free kick awarded. Barry Douglas produces a cross, Shot from just outside the box by Scott Robertson goes over the crossbar.
49′ John Sutton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Keith Watson. Sean Dillon produces a cross, Header by Jon Daly from deep inside the penalty area misses to the left of the goal.
47′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Sean Dillon by Alan Gow. Dusan Pernis takes the direct free kick.
46′ The ball is sent over by Chris Humphrey, clearance by Sean Dillon.
45′ A cross is delivered by Barry Douglas, clearance by Mark Reynolds.
45′ KICK OFF The match restarts for the second half.
45′ SUB Barry Douglas replaces Paul Dixon.
45+2 HALF TIME The first half comes to an end.
43′ Prince Buaben gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
43′ BOOKING Booking for Prince Buaben for unsporting behaviour.
42′ Keith Watson fouled by Steve Jennings, the ref awards a free kick. Dusan Pernis takes the free kick.
42′ Steven Saunders delivers the ball, clearance made by Keith Watson.
40′ Tom Hateley takes the inswinging corner, clearance by Sean Dillon.
39′ Steve Jennings fouled by David Robertson, the ref awards a free kick. Shot comes in from Tom Hateley from the free kick, blocked by Prince Buaben.
39′ Nick Blackman has an effort at goal. Paul Dixon gets a block in.
38′ Steve Jennings takes a shot. Blocked by Scott Robertson.
37′ Nick Blackman takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.
37′ Mark Reynolds produces a cross, clearance by Paul Dixon.
35′ Shot from 35 yards from David Goodwillie. Save by Darren Randolph.
34′ Alan Gow fouled by Prince Buaben, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stephen Craigan.
31′ Keith Watson gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Nick Blackman. Tom Hateley crosses the ball in from the free kick, save made by Dusan Pernis.
28′ Morgaro Gomis takes a shot. Blocked by Tom Hateley.
26′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stephen Craigan by Jon Daly. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
22′ The ball is crossed by Chris Humphrey, clearance by Keith Watson.
22′ David Goodwillie is ruled offside. Stephen Craigan restarts play with the free kick.
21′ Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stephen Craigan by Jon Daly. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick. David Goodwillie is ruled offside. Stephen Craigan takes the direct free kick.
20′ The ball is swung over by Prince Buaben, Mark Reynolds manages to make a clearance.
19′ Corner taken left-footed by Paul Dixon.
19′ SUB Jamie Murphy goes off and John Sutton comes on.
19′ Scott Robertson sends in a cross, blocked by Steve Jennings.
17′ Free kick awarded for a foul by David Goodwillie on Steven Saunders. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
14′ Outswinging corner taken from the left by-line by Paul Dixon.
14′ The ball is swung over by Morgaro Gomis, blocked by Chris Humphrey.
13′ Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Paul Dixon.
13′ Alan Gow gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Scott Robertson. Paul Dixon takes the free kick.
12′ Shot by Paul Dixon. Darren Randolph makes a save.
10′ David Goodwillie is flagged offside by the assistant referee. Mark Reynolds restarts play with the free kick.
9′ David Goodwillie takes a shot. Save made by Darren Randolph.
8′ Unfair challenge on Morgaro Gomis by Steven Saunders results in a free kick. Paul Dixon takes the direct free kick.
6′ Alan Gow takes a shot. Save by Dusan Pernis.
5′ Effort from the edge of the area by Jamie Murphy goes wide of the left-hand post.
4′ Free kick awarded for a foul by Garry Kenneth on Alan Gow. Free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
2′ David Goodwillie takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
2′ Nick Blackman challenges Sean Dillon unfairly and gives away a free kick. Sean Dillon restarts play with the free kick.
1′ Corner taken by Chris Humphrey played to the near post.
0′ The referee starts the match.
Motherwell boss Craig Brown:
“I’ve had two semi-finals with Motherwell in the Scottish Cup as assistant manager in the 1970s. We played Rangers and lost 3-2, then Airdrie. Sadly, we didn’t progress.”
“We had an excellent game here at the weekend but when you are playing each other so quickly again, you cancel each other out. We nullified each other.
“It wasn’t a flowing game like Saturday’s was. It came too quickly for both of us. I am pleased for Alan Gow, who has worked hard since he came here to get fit – and for him to score the only goal is a reward for his efforts so far,” he said.
“I thought (Stephen) Craigan and (Mark) Reynolds were first class. There was quite an aerial bombardment against them, particularly in the first half, and they withstood that very capably.
“Dundee United were, and probably are, the third team in Scotland, so to have managed to beat them twice is a good achievement. We have played better in other games this season, but we’ll accept the result gratefully.
“We are progressing, but there is a bit to be done.”