Motherwell Under 19s return to winning ways this afternoon with a hard fought 1-0 victory over St Johnstone at a rain-soaked Creamery Park.
After a stunning start to the season, Young’s men have faltered in recent weeks, losing 5-0 to both Rangers and Hearts.
However, they stopped the rot this afternoon thanks to a stunning Grant Brown strike midway through the second half.
It was a quiet opening to the game, with both sides doing their best to cope with the slippery surface at Bathgate Thistle’s Creamery Park. Indeed, it was a credit to the Bathgate side that the game was even on given the deluge of rain in the previous forty-eight hours.
The hosts thought they had taken the lead some seventeen minutes into the game when Jamie Pollock’s free-kick from deep was headed home by Euan Murray, but the 17-year-old was denied by the assistant’s flag; adjudging the defender to be in an offside position.
St Johnstone replied through with a free-kick from range, and although it had some swerve, Tom Bradley was well placed to make the catch in the middle of his goal.
Motherwell were continuing to create the better openings and Saints had their goalkeeper Neil Duff to thank for keeping the scores level after saving brilliantly from Howarth. A sweeping move culminated in a lovely Brown ball towards the back post. A misjudged defensive header allowed the former Clyde striker in, but his shot was saved by the ‘keeper with the rebound hooked clear.
If that save was good, Bradley’s nine minutes later was even better. Aiden Henry and Steven May combined on the edge of box allowing the latter to smash a lovely effort at goal. It looked to flying in but for the fingertips of Bradley who helped it over the bar and away from danger. It was a let-off for the Steelmen with #9 being allowed the opportunity too easily – a point Gordon Young wasn’t shy of making when the ball was eventually cleared.
Further chances came and went for Scanlan and, on the stroke of the break, for Brown but neither troubled the Saints backline too much.
Into the second half and the Steelmen came out of the traps flying. Josh Watt almost rounded off a wonderful passing move just minutes after the restart but his curling effort from just inside the area took a coat of paint off the right hand upright.
Saints were showing an ability to cause problems of their own, as was the swirling wind, and the two combined to almost give the visitors the lead. A bursting run and long-range shot by Ricky McIntosh looked harmless enough but a gust of wind changed the direction forcing Bradley to scramble the ball over the bar. The resulting corner was cleanly taken by the young keeper.
But it would be ‘Well who would push and push but despite efforts for Moore (which flew over the bar) and Pollock (deflected wide), it remained goalless. That was until Grant Brown scored one of the goals of the season.
A corner from the right by Pollock found Murray in the six-yard box but his downward header was bundled off the line and hooked clear. It landed at the Greenwich-born youngster some 35-yards out, and after a terrific first touch he lashed home an unstoppable volley in off the underside of the crossbar.
He was mobbed by his teammates and rightly so, it was a goal right out the top drawer.
St Johnstone, to their credit, refused to give in and created a number of chances in search of an equaliser. Edinburgh-born striker Chris Kane had a shot from distance well saved by Bradley and, five minutes later, the same player would again be denied when Bradley got down low to thwart a goal-bound header from just inside the six yard box.
Jamie Pollock almost wrapped it up for Motherwell with a bounced shot from distance which was again well held by Duff. Down the other end, the dangerous Kane turned provider minutes later with a great ball across the face which was narrowly missed by the sliding May.
It was to prove to be the last chance in an otherwise entertaining match that was played in difficult conditions but excellent spirits.
Motherwell: Bradley, Brown, McKinnon, Sloan, Murray, Lynch, Scanlan (Halsman), Pollock, Watt (Erwin), Moore (Connor), Howarth
Subs Not Used: Muir, McLean, McGachie