Motherwell and Dundee United will meet again for a Scottish Cup quarter-final replay after playing out a hugely entertaining 2-2 draw at Tannadice.
The Steelmen took the lead after just 54 seconds when John Sutton towered highest at the back post to head home a Stevie Hammell corner – the twelfth strike of a fruitful season for the former Spurs youth.
Motherwell were pegged back just before the break as David Goodwillie sent a stunning overhead kick past Darren Randolph from six yards.
The Steelmen regrouped and turned in a lively performance in the second period, taking the lead again through Sutton again. This time he converted following a super interchange between Stevie Hammell and Keith Lasley, and a perfect subsequent cross.
But there was to be a twist in the tale as the Arabs went straight up the other end – 64 seconds later in fact – and equalised through substituted Jon Daly.
Stuart McCall made two changes to the side which turned in such a disappointing display in the Highlands eight days previously. Stephen Craigan came into the side for Ross Forbes while Stevie Saunders replaced the suspended Steve Jennings.
The Scottish Cup holders United, playing their third game in six days, freshened up their side from the 2-1 victory over Hamilton with four changes. With Dixon, Buaben and Danny Swanson coming in for Shala, David Robertson, van der Muelen and Russell.
The Steelmen certainly started the game like a side with a point to prove following the Inverness Caledonian defeat and, remarkably, they were ahead with less than a minute on the clock. Stevie Hammell showed his dead-ball expertise by floating a perfect deep corner for John Sutton, and the in-form striker made no mistake in powering the ball home.
As you would naturally expect from a side on a run of three consecutive wins, Peter Houston’s men responded and could have been level twenty minutes into the game. David Goodwillie pounced on a short Steven Saunders header inside the ‘Well box, and his low shot from 16 yards was wonderfully saved by Darren Randolph.
Randolph was called into action again five minutes later as Prince Buaben was fed through on goal by Danny Swanson, but the Ghanaian’s curling effort was tame and easily saved by Motherwell’s Irish stopper.
At the other end Dusan Pernis was proving his worth too. As an end-to-end match swung towards the United goalmouth, Pernis was forced to act smartly to tip a Keith Lasley half-volley over the bar.
Approaching half-time both sides exchanged excellent low drives from range, with Prince Buaben firing narrowly wide for the Terrors and former Arsenal striker Franny Jeffers doing the same for the Steelmen.
Just as it seemed as though Stuart McCall’s men might take a one-goal lead into the break, after a scintillating opening period, David Goodwillie struck in spectacular fashion. Keith Watson lofted a high, hopeful ball into the area and the Scotland international pulled off an overhead kick to fire past Randolph.
It was an extraordinary bit of skill, but Motherwell defenders were left incandescent with rage over a perceived foul on Gavin Gunning before the cross was put in.
Into the second half Motherwell continued to play some excellent football, Indeed, on the hour mark the lively Lasley fired a powerful effort just over the bar from the edge of the area.
That was followed by a chance for the home side, with substitute Jon Daly heading over the bar with almost his first touch after coming off the bench to replace the unusually quiet Craig Conway.
In a see-saw encounter ‘Well were next to strike, and it was a splendidly worked goal. Stevie Hammell surged towards the penalty box, playing a neat one-two with Keith Lasley to burst into the area. Hammell, playing in an unaccustomed role of left-wing, had the presence of mind to pick out Sutton in the box, and he had the easiest task to slide home from six yards.
That goal should have given the visitors something to hold onto – but they only succeeding in holding onto it for a little over a minute. Danny Swanson found Jon Daly at the back post with a good cross and the bustling Irish striker made no mistake in dispatching past his compatriot Randolph.
There were half-chances in the closing stages for the busy David Goodwillie and substitute Chris Humphrey, but it finished 2-2, with a draw perhaps the fairest result from a match neither side deserved to lose.
[tab:As it happened]
Graham Barnstaple at Tannadice
Full Time: 2-2, good effort from the lads gave as good as they got, I am sure we are happier with a replay than they are.
90mins – Four minutes being added on
84mins – Forbes for Lasley, Well players upset at Goodwillie putting ball out for throw after we had kicked the ball out for Gunning injury
76mins – Saunders long ranger has Pernis panicing, but it slides inches wide of the post
74mins – Looks as though we got caught switching off after taking the lead, it’s a much livelier game now. Gomis booked for United.
73mins – GOOOOOAAAAALLLL – 2-2 Well – Sutton scores at front post from Hammell cross, BUT United go up other end and score through Daly
69mins – Hammell sends Gunning down left and his cross to front post is almost turned in by Dillon, another wasted corner
62mins – Daly on for United, his first touch is to head over a Douglas corner. Humphrey on now for Murphy for Well
58mins – Just as I say tha, Pernis pulls off a fine save from a Lasley shot from the edge of the box, from a Jeffers lay off.
56mins – Ten minutes in, nothing much to report, United probably on top but chances at a premium at either end
46mins – No changes in either line up at half time, as United get the second half underway
HT: We survived a tough last fifteen minutes there and need to re-group for the second half if we want to get through this one
Half time – 1-1, scoreline is about right, although some ‘Well players are complaining to ref and linesman about foul on Gunning
45mins – One minute being added on
41mins – Bit of controversy around the goal, as it looked as though Gunning was tripped before the ball was crossed in
40mins – 1-1 Goal for United, cross from right and Goodwille scores an overhead kick leaving Randolph helpless – Rooneyesque!
37mins – Hateley yellow for wild tackle just outside the box, United shout for pen as Goodwillie goes over nothing given.
31mins – United dominating possession but only shooting from long range, we look dangerous on the counter, Jeffers 20 yards out slips wide
27mins – Swanson booked for an outrageous drive after losing the ball
25mins – Stunning save from Pernis who somehow turns a Lasley volley over the bar as it looked to be heading into the top corner
18mins – Great save from Randolph, Goodwillie slipped past three defenders and looked to have score but big man saved one handed
13mins – Two half chances for Well, Murphy left foot shot saved easily and a Jeffers shot flashing wide of the post.
7mins – United’s first effort at goal comes from a Swanson free kick that is easily saved by Randolph
1min – Sutton’s downward header is his 12th goal of the season in all competitions
1min – GOOOAALLLLLL – Well 1 United 0, corner in 24 seconds, and Sutton heads in from Hammell’s kick, perfect start
1min – Game is underway with ‘Well kicking off
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We go back now to Fir Park, I don’t think for any minute that makes us favourites. It will be both teams going for it again with a semi-final place at stake.
“But I thought a draw was a merited result. I thoroughly enjoyed the game. There was a lot of good football.
“I thought our second was an excellently worked goal, as soon as Daly came on, he did it against Hamilton the other night, he pulls it out in the big games.
“It is disappointing and frustrating to lose a goal so early, but with the players they’ve got in the side, Swanson, Conway, Goodwillie and Daly, four front men who, on their game, are very good.
“But we have good players in our side and we showed that.”
Dundee Utd manager Peter Houston:
“It’s typical Dundee United side at the moment, they are a great bunch of lads and we did come back and what a fantastic goal from David Goodwillie. It has got to be up there for one of the goals of the season
“Then we fall behind and we don’t let it unsettle us and, within seconds, we are back in it. That’s a good thing.
“But I can’t credit the players any more. When you look it, it is our third game in six days. I wouldn’t have made it an excuse for us losing the game, but for us still to be going hard at it after 94 minutes was fantastic. So I am very pleased and proud of the players.
“It is a hard ask when we have a game on Wednesday as well and then we have a replay too. But I would rather be in the Cup.”