A much-changed Motherwell crashed to a disappointing 4-0 defeat at Tannadice this afternoon.
The Steelmen posted five changes from last weekend but found a United side in little mood for mercy; racing into a two goal lead at the interval courtesy of a Jon Daly brace.
The Irishman completed his hat-trick after half-time before Keith Watson added a fourth just before full-time.
It was a poor day at the office for McCall’s men; the Motherwell manager far from happy afterwards and even threatened Cup Final places if performances failed to improve.
McCall stuck with the policy of resting players ahead of that date with Celtic on May 21st as his Steelmen side showed five changes from the team that lost heavily to Rangers seven days ago. Ross Forbes, Shaun Hutchinson, Tom Hateley, Chris Humphrey and 17-year-old Stuart Carswell came in, replacing Stephen Craigan, Keith Lasley, John Sutton, Steve Jones and Stevie Hammell.
It was a quiet, typically end-of-season opening to the match, only interrupted by Johnny Russell on the 16th minute mark, the Scotland U21 star curling a beautiful left-foot volley just over the top after a free-flowing United move down the left side. Houston’s men followed that with a low shot by Morgaro Gomis that was expertly turned away by Darren Randolph with the rebound blazed over, seconds later, by Craig Conway.
The home side did eventually take the lead nine minutes before the half-time interval. Ross Forbes’ foul, which also brought about the first caution of the afternoon, allowed Paul Dixon to flight a cross towards the back post. Jon Daly won the header and it somehow sneaked between Randolph and the right hand upright for 1-0.
Seven minutes later and it went from bad to terrible for ‘Well as United, and Daly, grabbed the second of the match. Garry Kenneth was afforded too much time to break forward with the ball. After crossing the half-way line, he slid a neat pass to the Irishman who created space for himself between Gavin Gunning and Hutchinson and smashed past a helpless Randolph.
It looked at half-time as if that may well be that but if there was any shred of doubt, that was extinguished just four minutes into the second period when that man Daly grabbed his hat-trick. A ball into the box flew over the head of Gunning allowing the former Stockport man in. After controlling it nearly on his chest, he smashed it low past Randolph from twelve yards. Game, set and match!
Motherwell rarely threatened in truth; Chris Humphrey providing the only real spark with a run and shot that was saved by Pernis at the second attempt. Youngster Carswell, who had an industrious second half, also came close with a header from a Hateley corner that looked to come off the frame of the goal but it was a fairly comfortable afternoon for the Tangerine rearguard.
United could have extended their lead even further when Daly again came close, firing over from distance then hitting the outside of the post with a clever header.
The hosts added insult to injury with a fourth on the stroke of full-time, Keith Watson’s low pass-cum-shot somehow trickling into the net after substitute Andis Shala’s fresh air swing deceived Randolph.
[tab:As it happened]
Graham Barnstaple @ Tannadice
Full-time: Game over thankfully, not our finest afternoon…
90mins – Only 2 minutes being added on thankfully!!
88mins – GOAL – 0-4 Randolph saves from Goodwillie and from corner we fail to clear and Shala rolls in from 6 yards out.
85mins – With five to go Management team still working hard to get their side playing despite the score line.
81mins – Jeffers shown yellow for a show of frustration as the ball runs out for a goal kick.
80mins – No more than a hat trick for Daly as he is replaced by Andis Shala.
78mins – Steve Jones on for Humphrey.
70mins – Turn and shot from edge of the box from Jeffers but ball ends up wrong side of the post.
65mins – Attendance is 5951 this afternoon – not a good one for the small band of Well fans (250 or so) who have made the journey up.
63mins – Double sub for United – D Robertson and Buaben on and S Robertson and Russell off.
62mins – Stephen Craigan on for Maurice Ross.
53mins – Gary Smith on as sub for Ross Forbes.
49mins – GOAL – Hat-trick for Daly, he fires in from 12 yards out after Gunning had misjudged a ball into the box – not looking good!
45mins – Game back underway – no changes in either side.
Half time – 2-0 United, and sadly it is no more than they deserve, Pernis has only had a couple of crosses to palm out so far.
43mins – GOAL – 2-0 United, Daly turn and shot from about 15 yards out,it was all a bit too easy I’m afraid.
36mins – GOAL – 1-0 United – From the free kick Jon Daly scores with a header at the back post.
35mins – Yellow for Forbes for a foul on Gomis.
24mins – Gomis run from midfield ends with a shot that is palmed away by Randolph in dramatic fashion, then Conway blasts over from 18 yards.
16mins – Russell a bit closer this time with a volley bending just over for a Daly cross from the left.
14mins – First shot of game from Jonny Russell which sails miles over without troubling Randolph.
10mins – In and the game has a real end of season feel about it, which is another way of saying not much has happened yet!
1mins – United win the toss and we will kick off hitting towards the shed end.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We should do better with our defending, and we should be concerned about the way we conceded the goals today. I’m not taking anything away from Dundee United today, but not one of their goals was a good goal – it was all through poor defending.
“It’s concerning, the defensive side of our game in the last few weeks.
“We have to do a lot better. We’ve got a game against Kilmarnock on Wednesday night and we need a victory. We need to get a good performance and a good result and focus on that.
“The bottom line is that when we go into that final we’ve got to be at our best, and I know momentum will carry a lot into it.”
Dundee Utd manager Peter Houston:
“I’m delighted with the whole team. All eleven of them did a good job.
“I think Motherwell have one eye on the Scottish Cup final, if I’m being honest.
“It happened to us last season when you mix up your team a bit.”