Stuart McCall was thrilled after watching his Motherwell side dominate Hibernian on the way to a 1-0 victory at Easter Road.
An eighth minute Jamie Murphy goal was enough to secure the points, as the diminutive front man stole in to covert a splendid, albeit rare, header.
But the scoreline only tells half the story. ‘Well also smashed the bar, saw a Keith Lasley effort hit the upright and looked on as Graham Stack turned in a man-of-the-match winning display between the sticks for the hosts.
Indeed, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to suggest it was a comfortable afternoon for an industrious and classy Steelmen side.
McCall couldn’t hide his joy at the standard of performance his charges turned in, a matter of weeks after an equally superb win at Tannadice.
“We created all the chances,” the Motherwell boss praised. “Stack has made some tremendous saves and we’ve hit the post and bar.
“I thought it was an all-round good performance. We were creative and we defended well, Darren’s not had a lot to do. All in all a good days work.
“We said at half time that as much as we dominated the game, they would come at us, but not to get anxious. We knew we wouldn’t need another goal as long as we kept a clean sheet and it worked; we defended very well.”
The result means the Fir Parkers retain their lofty position of second spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
[pullquote]I thought it was an all-round good performance. We were creative and we defended well, Darren’s not had a lot to do. All in all a good days work.[/pullquote]
In fact, after Celtic’s dramatic draw at Kilmarnock, ‘Well have actually increased the gap between themselves and the Hoops.
The gaffer admits that even he has been surprised with the quality and consistency of his troops this campaign – but he isn’t getting carried away.
He continued: “We knew we had to go to Tannadice and go to Easter Road. And if you’d said we could go to these places and pick up a point at each then we would have been happy. But to pick up six points and to deserve to do it is wonderful.
“We’ve deserved the points that we’ve got, and expectations grow from outwith.
“They are such a good group to work with. They give you everything. We’ll get beat in games, but as long as they show commitment and desire and work from the first minute to the last, that’s all we can ask.”
The ‘Well boss reserved special praise for Jamie Murphy, for whom a headed goal is quite literally a show stopper: “We stopped the training this week because he’d scored a header.”
Judging by Murphy’s superb headed finish against the Hibees it seems that the fabled headed goal in training was a sign of things to come.
Indeed, while McCall was effusive in his plaudits for his whole team, he did single out Jamie Murphy and Michael Higdon after the pair gave Colin Calderwood’s side a torrid time in the Capital.
“He just doesn’t score with his head,” the ‘Well boss continued, clearly still in shock. “You could see by the celebrations that it was incredible. He normally heads them out from under the bar.
“I thought he was a threat when he got on the ball.
“Without singling anyone out, Higdon led the line very well too. Their keeper has made a number of good saves. It was pleasing and it was a great team effort.”