Stuart McCall claimed his first win as Motherwell boss in style as the Steelmen hammered Dundee 4-0 at Dens Park.
John Sutton opened the scoring inside three minutes when he found a yard of space inside the six-yard area to turn in a fine Jamie Murphy cross.
The former Dundee man made it a personal brace and 2-0 to Motherwell minutes into the second half when he slotted home from inside the area following some sublime approach work from Jamie Murphy.
Goals late on from Steve Jennings and Jamie Murphy ensured ‘Well went home with a handsome victory, and a late lunge from Leigh Griffiths on the reliable Steven Hammell meant the home side ended the match with ten men.
Motherwell welcomed back influential midfielder Steve Jennings after his three-match ban. John Sutton and Marc Fitzpatrick also returned to the starting line-up in place of departed duo Nick Blackman and Alan Gow as ‘Well looked to halt a six-match run without a win,
It didn’t take long for big Sutton to mark his return to the starting line-up with a goal. Jamie Murphy hared onto a lobbed through-ball and outpaced Craig McKeown in the left channel of the box. The Scotland Under 21 star proceeded to provide a perfect cutback for the former Dee, who fired in at the near post.
Minutes later Chris Humphrey cut inside from his right-hand berth and fired a left-footed shot just over Rab Douglas’ bar as Motherwell started in blistering fashion. In particular, the pace of Humphrey and Murphy was testing the home defence.
Following a whirlwind start from the Fir Park men Dundee started to come into the game as the half progressed, forcing a series of corners, although the Steelmen defence dealt with the Dark Blue threat with aplomb, with Darren Randolph in particularly commanding form.
Despite some enterprising stuff from the home side, Motherwell were the next to create a clear-cut chance. Stevie Hammell floated in a superb corner kick and the excellent John Sutton rose highest to head towards the corner, forcing a top save from Douglas low to this left.
A shot from distance five minutes before the break proved to be the closest Barry Smith’s men would come in the first period. Gary Harkins surged towards the edge of the area and fired a shot low, wide of Darren Randolph’s left-hand post.
It was a case of déjà vu all over again in the second half as Motherwell once again flew out of the traps and scored within three minutes. The goal was a thing of beauty as Jamie Muphy dinked a delightful through pass over the stationary Dundee backline for John Sutton, and the English front-man calmly slotted home from eight yards.
With their cup dreams dissipating, Dundee were quick to attempt a response and came within a matter of inches of halving the deficit moments later. The Dens Park side were given a disputed free-kick on the edge of the area, and sought-after Leigh Griffiths’ effort from the edge of the box took a massive deflection off the wall and struck the underside of the bar and was cleared off the line.
Dee pushed and put a degree of pressure on the ‘Well defence, but McCall’s side showed admirable organization and resoluteness to keep out the energetic hosts.
‘Well survived a penalty shout as an uproarious Dens Park claimed for a spot-kick when Leigh Griffiths appeared to be running clear. The young striker fell to the ground in the box, with Craigan and Reynolds in close attention, and appealed in vain for the decision as Steve Conroy waved play on.
That decision was to come back to haunt the home side as Steve Jennings put the tie to bed with eight minutes left on the clock. Tom Hateley found space on the right flank and the former Reading man swung in a super ball for the returning Jennings, who bulleted his header past the helpless Rab Douglas.
Icing was applied to the cake in the 87th minutes as the superb Jennings fed Jamie Murphy through on goal, and the 21-year old finished coolly to make it 4-0. The afternoon was soured further for Dundee as Leigh Griffiths stupidly lunged into a high, dangerous challenge on Stevie Hammell. Steve Conroy rightly sent Griffith packing to round off a nightmare for the hosts, and a more than satisfactory afternoon for McCall’s troops.
[tab:As it happened]
90+2 The referee ends the match.
90+1 Stephen O’Donnell gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Chris Humphrey restarts play with the free kick.
90mins The ball is swung over by Chris Humphrey, clearance made by Craig McKeown.
88mins Substitution Jamie Murphy goes off and Robert McHugh comes on.
87mins Sent off The referee shows Leigh Griffiths a red card for serious foul play.
87mins Unfair challenge on Stevie Hammell by Leigh Griffiths results in a free kick. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
86mins GOAL – Jamie Murphy: Dundee 0 – 4 Motherwell Jamie Murphy finds the net with a goal from inside the area to the bottom right corner of the goal. Dundee 0-4 Motherwell.
84mins Substitution Ross Forbes on for Keith Lasley.
80mins GOAL – Steve Jennings: Dundee 0 – 3 Motherwell Steve Jennings finds the back of the net with a headed goal from deep inside the penalty area. Dundee 0-3 Motherwell.
79mins Jamie Murphy produces a right-footed shot from outside the penalty area and misses left.
78mins Gary Harkins gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Jamie Murphy. Steve Jennings takes the direct free kick.
77mins Steve Jennings gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stephen O’Donnell. Gary Harkins has an effort direct from the free kick, comfortable save by Darren Randolph.
76mins Stephen O’Donnell gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Keith Lasley. Direct free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
76mins Stephen O’Donnell crosses the ball, save made by Darren Randolph.
73mins John Sutton concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephen O’Donnell. Rhys Weston restarts play with the free kick.
72mins Free kick awarded for a foul by Craig Forsyth on Chris Humphrey. Tom Hateley takes the free kick.
71mins Kyle Benedictis gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on John Sutton. Direct free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.
69mins Stephen O’Donnell concedes a free kick for a foul on Mark Reynolds. Marc Fitzpatrick restarts play with the free kick.
67mins Booking Booking for Gary Harkins for dissent.
66mins Sean Higgins concedes a free kick for a foul on Mark Reynolds. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
66mins Booking Steve Jennings receives a yellow card.
66mins Booking Darren Randolph is cautioned by the ref for dissent.
65mins Booking Sean Higgins goes into the book for unsporting behaviour.
63mins Foul by Stephen Craigan on Leigh Griffiths, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Gary Harkins.
62mins Substitution Kyle Benedictis comes on in place of Johnny Stewart.
61mins The ball is sent over by Craig Forsyth, clearance by Stevie Hammell.
59mins Handball by John Sutton. Robert Douglas takes the free kick.
58mins John Sutton gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Craig Forsyth. Matthew Lockwood restarts play with the free kick.
57mins Stephen O’Donnell fouled by Keith Lasley, the ref awards a free kick. Free kick taken by Craig McKeown.
56mins Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Matthew Lockwood by John Sutton. Rhys Weston takes the free kick.
55mins The offside flag is raised against Leigh Griffiths. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
54mins The official flags Leigh Griffiths offside. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
53mins Corner taken by Stephen O’Donnell, clearance by Steve Jennings.
52mins Corner from the right by-line taken by Craig Forsyth, clearance by Stephen Craigan.
49mins Inswinging corner taken by Stephen O’Donnell from the left by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Tom Hateley.
48mins Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Gary Harkins by Keith Lasley. Strike on goal comes in from Leigh Griffiths from the free kick, blocked by Stephen Craigan.
46mins GOAL – John Sutton: Dundee 0 – 2 Motherwell A goal is scored by John Sutton from deep inside the penalty area low into the middle of the goal. Dundee 0-2 Motherwell.
46mins Matthew Lockwood challenges Marc Fitzpatrick unfairly and gives away a free kick. Darren Randolph takes the free kick.
45mins The referee starts the second half.
45+1 Half Time – Dundee 0 – 1 Motherwel
43mins Stephen O’Donnell takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
43mins Free kick awarded for a foul by Mark Reynolds on Sean Higgins. Stephen O’Donnell restarts play with the free kick.
42mins Effort from 18 yards by Tom Hateley. Save by Robert Douglas.
42mins Jamie Murphy delivers the ball, Matthew Lockwood manages to make a clearance.
40mins Stephen O’Donnell has an effort at goal from outside the box which goes wide right of the target.
32mins Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Steve Jennings by Matthew Lockwood. Free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.
31mins The offside flag is raised against Leigh Griffiths. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
30mins Corner taken left-footed by Stevie Hammell from the right by-line, John Sutton takes a shot. Robert Douglas makes a fantastic save.
29mins Jamie Murphy crosses the ball, Marc Fitzpatrick has an effort at goal from 12 yards. Craig McKeown gets a block in.
27mins Foul by John Sutton on Craig Forsyth, free kick awarded. Gary Harkins restarts play with the free kick, Steve Jennings crosses the ball.
26mins Centre by Mark Reynolds, clearance made by Rhys Weston.
26mins Gary Irvine takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.
26mins Stephen O’Donnell decides to take the corner short.
25mins Johnny Stewart sends in a cross, clearance by Stevie Hammell.
25mins Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Craig Forsyth, save made by Darren Randolph.
22mins The ball is swung over by Tom Hateley, save by Robert Douglas.
20mins Corner taken right-footed by Stephen O’Donnell to the near post.
18mins Foul by Stephen Craigan on Matthew Lockwood, free kick awarded. Free kick taken by Stephen O’Donnell.
17mins Centre by Tom Hateley, Rhys Weston makes a clearance.
16mins Stephen O’Donnell takes a corner.
16mins Keith Lasley concedes a free kick for a foul on Stephen O’Donnell. Free kick taken by Rhys Weston.
12mins The assistant referee signals for offside against Leigh Griffiths. Free kick taken by Darren Randolph.
11mins Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Stevie Hammell, Robert Douglas makes a save.
9mins Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Stevie Hammell, Matthew Lockwood makes a clearance.
8mins The ball is crossed by Stevie Hammell, Rhys Weston manages to make a clearance.
7mins The ball is delivered by Stevie Hammell, Gary Irvine makes a clearance.
7mins Chris Humphrey decides to take a short corner.
5mins Chris Humphrey produces a left-footed shot from just outside the area that goes harmlessly over the bar.
2mins GOAL – John Sutton: Dundee 0 – 1 Motherwell John Sutton grabs a goal from close range to the bottom left corner of the goal. Dundee 0-1 Motherwell.
2mins Gary Harkins challenges Marc Fitzpatrick unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Mark Reynolds.
1mins The assistant referee signals for offside against Sean Higgins. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.
1mins Sean Higgins concedes a free kick for a foul on Keith Lasley. Free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
0mins The game gets underway.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We’ve certainly bust a few coupons today; I think with the excellent run Dundee have been on, combined with us not winning in six games, made some people see this as a likely shock of this round.
“The early goal was vital for us and it really settled the lads down. We said before the game that we would try to work the channels, like Jamie Murphy did for the first goal. We would try to work them like that and then we knew we would have to be up for the physical battle.
“I’m glad our quality shone through at the end, and you could see the talent we have from the goals we scored tonight.
“Scoring four goals, keeping a clean sheet, a place in the next round and getting no new injuries has to be considered a really good day for us.”
Dundee manager Barry Smith:
“We’re very disappointed with the result. I don’t think the team becomes bad overnight so it’s a result we’re not happy with but, all-in-all, Motherwell deserved their victory.
“They were more clinical than us; they defended better than us so they fully deserved the win.
“The first goal was disappointing to lose, just when we were trying to bed us in. Motherwell’s experience meant they could sit and pick us off and, being a better side, they pressed us high up the park and didn’t give us any time on the ball but that’s something our players have to cope with.”