Motherwell U19s bounced back from last week’s disappointing defeat at the hands of St Johnstone with a 2-1 win over St Mirren at McKenna Park today.
After an entertaining, but scoreless, first-half, Motherwell took the lead shortly after the restart when Craig Moore latched on to a Stuart Carswell cross to blast his side into the lead.
The one goal advantage quickly became two when defender Darren Brownlie, up for a corner, found space at the back post to turn and bundle the ball past the keeper and a number of defenders.
Saints, to their credit, quickly hit back though when Anton Brady’s fine finish from the edge of the area bounced past the helpless Willie Muir.
However, the goal didn’t catapult the hosts back into the match – indeed, Motherwell were the only team really threatening as the game headed towards its conclusion but the score stayed the same and the points returned to Lanarkshire.
After last week’s heartbreaking stoppage time defeat to Saints at Bathgate, Gordon Young opted for two changes to his side.
Striker Moore came in to replace Lee Erwin who had to be content with a place amongst the subs and Stuart Carswell made a welcome return to the side after missing the opening three matches whilst with the first-team. The unfortunate Adam Ashgar was the man who dropped out.
It was a bright but breezy afternoon in Glasgow, perfect for football, and Motherwell almost made the perfect start when a short back pass allowed Keiran McGachie to drive towards goal. By the time he reached the box though, Saints were starting to get back in numbers and after forcing the big striker to cut inside, his driving shot from the edge of the box flew just over the bar.
Six minutes later, the same player again pounced on some slack defending and after beating Michael McNiven to the ball, the former Stenny man looked to have been clipped just inside the area. He was, however, a victim of his own honesty and after staying on his feet, managed to square the ball to Steve Hetherington whose curling effort was terrifically saved by the recovering Saints keeper.
Motherwell continued to press and looked the team most likely to score and, with 20 minutes on the clock, a combination of superb goalkeeping and poor finishing kept it at 0-0.
McGachie, who was at the centre of everything Motherwell had in the final third, was again the creator. Collecting a poor kick-out, he wasted no time in unleashing a stinging effort that forced McNiven to parry. The ball dropped for Stuart Carswell, who looked to have a tap in, but could only screw the ball wide from an acute angle.
‘Well continued to push and had more than a few crosses into the box which were mopped up by the sturdy Saints backline.
Into the second half and after Saints had the chance to test Muir from a free-kick from the edge of the area (that ballooned high over the bar), Motherwell finally took the lead and it was a sweeping move of some quality.
Keiran MacDonald, Zane Francis-Angol and Hermann Mboa Mekongo all combined in the middle of the park, with the latter spreading it wide to the right flank for Nicky Devlin. The former Dumbarton full-back quickly played in the supporting Carswell who flashed a lovely cross towards the near post where Craig Moore nipped in ahead of Jason Naismith to smash the ball home from close range.
That goal only succeeded in pushing Motherwell on and McGachie once again came close to getting his name on the scoresheet. Racing on to a long Euan Murray ball over the top, he outpaced the covering defender but his low shot was well saved by the feet of McNiven at the expense of a corner.
It looked as if it was only a matter of time before the Steelmen doubled their advantage and so it came courtesy of an unlikely source. A Keiran MacDonald corner from the right was flicked on at the near post before landing at the feet of Darren Brownlie. The big defender was afforded time and space to turn and shoot the ball into the net from a tight angle, the ball somehow weaving its way past a posse of defenders and the goalkeeper.
Incredibly, from a position of control, Motherwell were immediately pegged back as St Mirren brought themselves back into the game with an excellent strike. Mark Lamont created space on the left and his deep cross towards the back post was cushioned down for the supporting Anton Brady who lashed a shot home from just inside the area.
Game on? Well, not really as Motherwell never really looked under too much pressure as the game wound down to a finish. Indeed, Euan Murray almost restored the two-goal deficit with a header from a corner that was knocked off the line and McGachie was denied a penalty for the second time when he appeared to be pulled down by McNiven but the referee wasn’t interested, pointing for a corner and not at the penalty spot.
Just before full-time, ‘Well had a golden opportunity to make the points safe but once again, McGachie was denied by McNiven. Francis-Angol and Mboa Mekongo worked a brilliant move down the left which finished with a decent ball into the area from the left back. It was only partially cleared and after Carswell and sub Lee Erwin had combined, it fell kindly for striker inside the box but his shot was expertly saved by Saints’ on-form goalkeeper with three players all waiting to tuck it home.
It was the last action of an otherwise entertaining encounter. Motherwell move into third in the table ahead of tomorrow’s other matches and face last season’s league winners Celtic next Saturday at Lennoxtown (12 noon kick off).
Motherwell: Muir, Francis-Angol, Murray, Brownlie (Lynch), Murray, Devlin, Hetherington, Mboa Mekongo, Carswell, MacDonald (Erwin), Moore, McGachie
Subs Not Used: Stewart, Green, Ashgar, Leitch