Alan Temple at Broadwood
Michael Higdon and Nicky Law grabbed their first goals for Motherwell as the Steelmen confidently disposed of Clyde 4-0 in the Scottish Communities League Cup second round.
Goals from Tom Hateley and Steven Lawless – also his first goal, on his first start for the club – added some sparkle to the score-line as any hopes of a cup shock disappeared in the Cumbernauld rain.
Despite resting many of his established stars, McCall’s Motherwell were ahead within the first twenty minutes as Michael Higdon nodded home the first goal of his ‘Well career from close range.
The lead was deservedly doubled moments before half-time as Nicky Law produced a super solo strike to make it 2-0.
Tom Hateley’s stunning second half strike put the tie to bed completely as the travelling Steelmen support witnessed a vibrant, professional display by their side.
And, even allowing for some second period profligacy, Motherwell still had time to make it four with a powerful left-footed effort.
While assistant manager Kenny Black had previously insisted Motherwell were desperate for another dramatic cup run, Stuart McCall’s team selection certainly illustrated the Steelmen’s commitment to the Clydesdale Bank Premier League, with six changes to the side which lost 3-
0 to Rangers on Sunday.
With a trip to unbeaten Dunfemline to come on Saturday Darren Randolph, Stephen Craigan, Steven Hammell, Steven Jennings, Jamie Murphy and Chris Humphrey all dropped out, meaning chances to impress for Lee Hollis, Jon Page, Jordan Halsman, Bob McHugh, Ross Forbes as well as debutant Steven Lawless.
Conversely Clyde started with just one change from their side which defeated Montrose 1-0 at Broadwood at the weekend, with John Charles Hutchinson replacing Filip Mentel between the sticks for the Bully Wee.
And Clyde’s established first-team players certainly started with all the vigour that you would expect from an Irn-Bru Third Division side in the mood for a giant-killing. Within five minutes Stephen McDonald had tested Lee Hollis, heading into the arms of the former Airdrie United keeper following a whipped cross from John Neill.
Neill himself forced Hollis into action again moments later, driving from midfield and firing a low effort from 25 yards, skidding off the sodden surface into Hollis’ grateful arms.
Those chances proved to be a false dawn for Jim Duffy’s men as Motherwell grabbed the lead on 17 minutes – with Michael Higdon opening his claret and amber account.
Ross Forbes swung in a teasing corner towards the six-yard box, prompting Clyde keeper Hutchinson to flap at the cross as he tried to crash through a cluster of bodies, allowing Higdon to stoop and head home his first goal for his new club.
It was a goal which saw the visitors settle and start dictating the tempo of the encounter, with Law, Lasley and Forbes patrolling the midfield with aplomb.
Lasley could have doubled the lead just after the half-hour mark as he lashed a low shot from the edge of the box which took an awkward nick along the way, but Hutchinson went some way to redeeming himself with a fine low save.
It was a temporary reprieve for the hosts as Hutchinson was beaten just before half-time, in mesmerizing fashion.
Nicky Law picked up the ball on the left flank and proceeded to cut infield, dancing past three challenges and slotting the ball into the corner of the net from around the penalty spot. It was a magical strike, and a fitting way for the former Rotherham man to score his first goal for the ‘Well.
The Law-Higdon double-act almost added to the score-line as the second half began, with ‘Well’s midfield playmaker picking out the former St. Mirren striker in the box, only for Hutchinson to tip Higdon’s powerful shot over the bar.
And bizarrely, minutes later Bob McHugh was responsible for denying a dominant Motherwell their third goal. Big Shaun Hutchinson got his head on a Ross Forbes corner, but his goal-bound header was blocked by the helpless McHugh on the line.
It didn’t prove decisive, as ‘Well did get their deserved third goal a matter of seconds later. Tom Hateley drove in from the right side and, from the edge of the box, rifled home a sumptuous curling effort with his left foot.
Efforts from substitute Chris Humphrey and Bob McHugh both tested Hutchinson as Motherwell threatened to blow away the part-timers from three-tiers below.
Indeed, Gary Smith and Bob McHugh both blasted shots off target in the latter stages in a match which Motherwell could have reaped a much larger score-line for the SPL side.
But some deserved gloss was added to the result late on, as Steven Lawless lashed home a near-post drive from inside the box following a scramble in the Clyde box. The goal was the least ‘Well, and the industrious Lawless, deserved from a top display ahead of this weekend’s trip to Fife.
[tab:As it happened]
Graham Barnstaple at Broadwood
Full time – Comfortable 4-0 win and through to Monday’s draw. Crowd tonight was 1800, with a healthy ‘Well contingent.
85mins – GOAL! Five to go and it’s 4-0, Lawless firing home a debut goal. Three players getting their first goals tonight. Nice workout.
57mins – Triple sub for Well as Lasley, Law and Higdon off. Good workout for the experienced trio; Humphrey, Carswell and Smith come on.
51mins – GOAL! 3-0 Well with Hateley bending a left foot shot in from the edge of the box. Another great strike from the clinical Steelmen.
HT – Half time and it is a comfortable 2-0 lead at the moment; Hollis barely tested apart from an early header. Good work from the young Steelmen side.
41mins – GOAL! Law cuts in from left, beats three and fires in his first goal for ‘Well to make it 2-0. Superb strike from Nicky Law.
17mins – GOAL! Motherwell! 1-0 as Higdon bags his first for Well by nipping in to head a Ross Forbes delivery past the keeper.
10mins – The highlight so far is Lee Hollis beating two men in his own penalty area.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“It was good we got the first goal, it could have added pressure. If your attitude’s not right, you can come a cropper. The attitude was spot-on. We had some decent play, some excellent goals, no injuries and some more experience for the fringe players.
“All the boys that played have been on my bench and are going to be needed over the next few months.
“It wasn’t that we were treating Clyde in any way disrespectfully, it’s just that the lads should be able to play in that game and they did do.”
Clyde manager Jim Duffy:
“It was phenomenal finishing. The first goal was a mistake but after that every finish was top drawer and there’s nothing you can do about that.
“Our goalkeeper had a couple of brilliant saves from strikes. Motherwell played well and deserved to win, there is absolutely no doubt about that. All I can look at is my team’s work ethic and it was outstanding.”