Alan Burrows at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium
Motherwell continued their pre-season preparations with a comprehensive 5-0 win over Dumbarton this afternoon.
A first-half brace from Jamie Murphy gave Motherwell a comfortable lead at the break only for Nicky Law, Bob McHugh and Steve Saunders to complete the scoring during the second forty-five.
Stuart McCall made just one change from the side that overcame Morton four days previous.
Ross Forbes was introduced to the starting eleven in place of Steven Saunders who had to be content with a place amongst the substitutes. That meant Tom Hateley replaced the Scottish International at right full-back with Forbes occupying his familiar centre-midfield role.
The SPL side dictated the pace for most of the match but had to rely on the reactions of Lee Hollis early on to keep the score blank.
The Sons tested the former Airdrie man inside the opening three minutes when Coyne found space seven yards from goal but his low shot was turned away by the Steelmen stopper.
That appeared to kick Motherwell into life and within 60 seconds, McCall’s men created a great chance of their own. Michael Higdon did well to run the left channel and save the ball from running over the line. He cut it back for fellow newbie Nicky Law but on his right foot, the former Rotherham man blazed high over the bar and the chance was gone.
Law’s miss only delayed what seemed inevitable though and ‘Well took the lead after just eight minutes; Jamie Murphy the man on the score sheet once again. Law started the move with a terrific cross-field pass for Chris Humphrey who was in acres of space on the right flank. Opening up, he burst clear of the full-back before delivering a deep ball into the area. Higdon caused all sorts of problems challenging for the ball and his hard work allowed the former Scotland U21 man to pounce on the loose ball to prod home from close range.
Dumbarton, to their credit, weren’t deterred after going behind and forced another terrific save from Hollis some five minutes later. Left-sider Agnew collected the ball on the edge of the area and his low shot was both powerful and on target. Frustratingly for Alan Adamson’s men, Hollis was again on his toes, looking smart to turn the ball away before it was eventually hooked clear.
Motherwell were still the side making the best of things and a Ross Forbes shot from distance tested Stephen Grindlay, who was well placed to make the catch. A minute later, a lovely one-touch passing move almost allowed Keith Lasley in but Grindlay was off his line smartly to smother as the veteran midfielder was about to pull the trigger.
If those saves were impressive, the Dumbarton stopper was seemingly getting better with each passing chance. He turned round a bulleting Stephen Craigan effort after good build-up from Humphrey and from the resulting Ross Forbes corner, Higdon’s header was again palmed away by the 29-year old former Celtic and Newcastle youth player.
The Fir Parkers were now well on top and another excellent Humphrey diagonal cross was dropping perfectly for Forbes and his volley looked goal bound but blocked by a last-ditch tackle at the expense of a corner. However, the Sons’ goal wasn’t as charmed from the resulting corner as Higdon’s flick dropped for Murphy who was sharp to the ball, prodding home from underneath the bar.
Motherwell were relentless and attacks from Hateley and Murphy came and went with the score staying 2-0. In actual fact, it was a miracle how Motherwell’s lead stayed at two.
Keith Lasley again broke through and his shot was brilliantly saved again by Grindlay. The rebound flew up for Humphrey and with the goal at his mercy; the Jamaican shot was blocked on the line and somehow screwed over the bar.
Grindlay was again called into action as half-time approached when he got down well to turn Murphy’s twenty-two yard shot round the post. From the resulting corner, Forbes’ cross found Hutchinson whose bullet header was saved yet again by the home ‘keeper.
Right before the interval, Michael Higdon almost opened his Motherwell account when he latched on to a clever Law reverse pass. As he was about to blast home, he was quickly closed down and the chance was gone.
The only change at the interval was in goals, with Lee Hollis replaced by young Willie Muir. The youngster would be a virtual spectator for his first forty-five minutes for the Motherwell first team.
Down the other end though, Motherwell picked up where the first half left off and Higdon had the ball in the net after yet another brilliant Law pass but he was thwarted by the the assistant referee’s flag.
New signing Law was pulling all the strings in midfield but not content with creating chances, the Englishman almost scored his first for the club after a lovely move inside the box ended with an attempted chip over the goalkeeper but, almost predictably, the Sons keeper was on hand to save before it was hooked clear.
However, just two minutes later, in an almost identical move, Law would indeed grab the goal his play deserved. A lovely one-two with Murphy was completed by a delicate chip that nestled in the back of the net bringing the 400+ ‘Well fans to their feet.
It was almost four-nil ten minutes later when Craigan’s header inside the box dropped for Hutchinson but the Geordie’s stinging volley crashed back off the outside of the post.
That prompted a raft of changes from McCall with eight players being introduced over a three minute period, amongst them Steven Saunders and Robert McHugh who would both get their names amongst the goals.
McHugh was first, latching on to a fantastic Jamie Pollock through ball before slamming high past Grindlay for 4-0.
Further chances fell to Pollock and McHugh before Steven Saunders crashed home a header with virtually the last kick off the ball. It was a fitting end to an otherwise excellent Motherwell performance.
[tab:As it happened]
Alan Burrows at the Strathclyde Homes Stadium
Full Time: Dumbarton 0 – 5 Motherwell (Murphy x2, Law, McHugh, Saunders)
90+1mins – GOAL – Dumbarton 0 – 5 Motherwell (Steven Saunders). Resulting corner is met by the Scottish International. Bullet header home.
90mins – McHugh and Smith race clear – five looks on the cards but shot from the former is blocked over brilliantly.
88mins – Almost five… McHugh breaks the offside trap again but his shot is well saved. Rebound lands at Pollock but his effort is saved.
84mins – GOAL – Dumbarton 0 – 4 Motherwell (Bob McHugh). Lovely pass from Pollock plays in the youngster. Great finish from the edge.
80mins – Youngsters have picked up where the senior lads left off. Some excellent football in and around the box but not more goals as yet.
76mins – Treble Sub now – Law, Murphy and Humphrey are off… McHugh, Lawless and Pollock are the replacements.
72mins – Quintet of subs – Hammell, Craigan, Lasley, Forbes, Higdon are off – replaced by Saunders, Page, Carswell, Smith and Halsman.
71mins – Ball looping into the area, flick on by Craigan, for Hutchinson show smashes a volley off the post.
54mins – Law burst down the left, beats a few before playing a lovely one-two with Muphy. This time his dink ends up in the back of the net.
54mins – GOAL – Dumbarton 0 – 3 Motherwell. Nicky Law aka GOD
56mins – Law almost gets his first goal. Lovely one-two on the edge of the area but his attempted dink is palmed away by the GK again.
54mins – Law bursts into the box and is fouled, ohh, about five times. Alan Muir isn’t interested, again. Welcome to Scotland Nicky!
50mins – Corner from Hateley met by Hutchinson but header loops wide of the past. Second half picked up where the first ended.
49mins – Higdon has the ball in the net but the game already stopped for a foul. Another terrific assist / pass from Law again!
45mins – Second half gets underway – The Sons to get us going again. Lovely sunny day here!
Half-time: Sub as Lee Hollis is replaced by young Willie Muir.
Half Time – Dumbarton 0 – 2 Motherwell (Murphy x2)
42mins – If only PA were here doing the stats!
42mins – Nicky Law on fire again, slips in Higdon with a lovely neat pass but the big man’s effort is blocked for a corner.
41mins – Dumbarton keeper Stephen Grindlay is saving his side from a beating. He’s in super form!
40mins – Resulting corner from Forbes is met by Hutchinson but his header is excellent saved again!
40mins – Murphy comes close to a hat-trick but his low shot from the edge of the area is well saved. Motherwell are dominating.
38mins – Nicky Law is having an absolute worldy! His range of passing is frightening!
34mins – God knows how it is only 2-0 – Humphrey has a great chance, collecting rebound after Lasley shot. His effort is blocked over!
31mins – Penalty shout for ‘Well there. Murphy breaks the offside trap after Law pass. Round the GK and brought down. No penalty! Hmmmm!
29mins – Bursting run from Hateley down the right flank. Cutting in, his shot blazes just over the bar. Almost 3-0 but not quite…
24mins – Announcer gives the goal to Craigan but it looked from here like Murphy. Half Time video will confirm one way or another.
24mins – GOAL – Dumbarton 0 – 2 Motherwell (Murphy). Corner from the right is flicked on by Higdon for Murphy who bundles home from close range.
22mins – Another chance from Motherwell – Humphrey’s ball towards the back post is met by Forbes but his effort is blocked for a corner.
20mins – Resulting corner is met by Higdon but his header is well saved again. Another corner, this time met by Law but shot is blocked.
20mins – Almost 2-0 for ‘Well there. Corner from Forbes is collected by Humphrey. He tees up Craigan whose shot is brilliantly saved.
14mins – Long shot from Forbes is comfortably saved by Grindlay! Minute later, Las almost rounds off a brilliant move but shot is well saved
12mins – Dumbarton almost reply. Good move down the middle – ball eventually spread out to Agnew on the left flank. Low shot well saved!
8mins – Incredible ball from Law plays Humphrey in down the right. His cross into the middle is dangerous. Higdon bundles to Murphy who slots home
8mins – GOAL – Motherwell 1 – 0 Dumbarton (Jamie Murphy)
4mins – Motherwell reply with a great chance of their own. Michael Higdon picks up in the left flank. Pull back for Law but shot blazes over
3mins – Early Dumbarton chance when Coyne (familiar name eh?) fires low – well saved by Hollis. Wouldn’t have counted though – lineo had his flag up
1mins – Motherwell kick-off and Humphrey goes right on the attack. His deep ball towards the back post is plucked by the Dumbarton GK
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I was very pleased with the application of the players from the first minute to the last.
“Lee Hollis had to make to terrific saves early on but when we settled down we played some neat stuff and scored some nice goals so yea, pleasing again.
“I’d like to think the team that we have got and the quality that is in it; we will create chances. There was some pleasing football as I have said and it was a good workout for us.
“Most of the boys stepped up from 45 minutes the other day to about 70, 75 minutes today and we’ll look to progress that on when we face Partick Thistle and Leeds next week.”
Dumbarton manager Alan Adamson:
“We can take a lot of positives from this performance. Our goalkeeper made some great saves.
“Scott Agnew did well and looks like he will be a good addition to our squad – but over the piece it was clear that Motherwell were that little bit sharper than we were.
“There was enough there to suggest we’ve a lot to look forward to this season.”