Kris Jack at Fir Park
A Michael Higdon header against his former club wasn’t enough to earn Motherwell a win, as Jim Goodwin’s thunderbolt ensured a share of the spoils for St Mirren.
The big striker was on hand to nod home just minutes into the second half after superb build-up play from midfield maestro Nicky Law.
However, the Steelmen’s lead lasted only eleven minutes when former Hamilton Accies midfielder Jim Goodwin unleashed an unstoppable thirty-yard rocket leaving Darren Randolph helpless.
The game got stretched towards the end with the visitors probably having the better of the chances but it finished all square with both teams sharing the spoils in an entertaining match.
After last week’s convincing victory in Perth, Stuart McCall stuck with the exact same squad that dispatched St Johnstone 3-0 on their home turf. Omar Daley’s goal and performance kept him in the starting eleven, and would be hoping to be as much of a threat and provider as last week.
Jamie Murphy and former Buddie Michael Higdon were hoping to be the benefactors of his wing play, with the former looking to add to his brace last week, and the latter aiming to get on over on his former employers.
Danny Lennon made just one change to his starting line up that came back from two goals down against Aberdeen to salvage a draw last time out. Nigel Hasselbaink came in for former Scotland international Gary Teale, to give the Paisley side a speedy option up front.
While losing one game away from home all season, ‘Well were hoping the Christmas period would gift them a home performance to fill the fans with festive cheer.
Both sides set out to attack and create from the off. Inside the opening two minutes, Daley managed to sneak in behind Tesselaar, only to have his pass cleared out for a corner, which Hateley over hit.
St Mirren then caused panic in the home box, when Graham Carey cut in from the right and fired a shot at Randolph, which the big keeper spilled before the ball was hacked to safety. Motherwell were using their wide men to good effect in the early stages, with Hammell, Daley and Hateley directing balls in to the Buddies box, but with no takers.
The game was given a bit of an edge when Jennings was booked for a foul on Carey in the middle of the park. A bit of a melee ensued, with Jim Goodwin also carded for their involvement. ‘Well were then awarded a free-kick; it was Tom Hateley range, but the right back couldn’t emulate his last minute winner from St Mirren Park.
Instead, the visitors broke up the park and won a corner, but McGowan’s volley from the cross was blasted well over. The former Celtic youngster earned the same result when he thundered a free kick form 35 yards in to the Cooper stand a few moments later.
The game became littered with niggly fouls and Motherwell were fortunate not to concede a penalty midway through the half. Hutchinson looked to bring down Tesselaar as he romped in to the box for what looked a stone wall spot kick, Referee Calum Murray pointed the spot but was reversed the call in favour of an offside call with the help of his linesman.
Michael Higdon then flashed a header wide from the penalty spot, diving to connect with Jamie Murphy’s cross. Murphy then went on a mazy runs, picking the ball up midway in the Saints half and galloping past man after man in to the box. Instead of shooting, he squared to Higdon, whose shot was blocked my McAusland, before Daley blazed an effort in to the stand from an angle.
St Mirren were also searching for the opener, and only some composed defending from Craigan prevented Hasselbaink from pulling the trigger after winning a tussle with Hammell in the box. Michael Higdon was desperate to get a goal against his old club and only a Goodwin clearance stopped his bullet header crossing the line from Hateley’s corner. Omar Daley was then booked for delaying a St Mirren free kick by kicking the ball away. Kenny McLean then let fly with a thunderbolt from 35 yards which shook Darren Randolph’s upright before being cleared.
St Mirren seemed happy to allow Motherwell to run at them, and Nicky Law almost made them pay just before half time. In almost a repeat of Murphy’s run from earlier, he strode from halfway in to the opposing box, but his final ball to Michael Higdon fell too short. It was an entertaining first half, with chances for both sides and some spicy challenges, but severely lacked a goal.
It took all of three minutes in the second period for that goal to materialize, and did so for the home side. Murphy latched on to a long ball up the left flank and fed Nicky Law, whose composed and weighted cross found the head of Michael Higdon, who nodded the ball down in Samson’s bottom left corner. It was Higdon’s seventh SPL goal of the season and gave ‘Well the lead versus his previous club.
Lasley was next to have a crack at the St Mirren goal, firing just over from 30 yards following a cleared corner. It was a spectacular attempt which Jim Goodwin not only tried to copy, but bested, a few moments later. The St Mirren captain was fed the ball 25 yards from goal, looked up and magnificently thundered a drive in to the top right hand corner.
1-1 with an hour played and the visitors could have snatched the lead with their next attack. A great ball over the top found McGowan in acres of space before he rounded Darren Randolph, only to fire well over from a tight angle. It was a let off for Motherwell, who until that point looked good for their lead.
The equalizer found St Mirren in the ascendancy, with their passing and possession more prevalent than their hosts. In hope of regaining a grip of the game, Stuart McCall made a double substitution with Daley and Lasley replaced by Chris Humphrey and Stephen Hughes.
Jamie Murphy picked up his sides fourth booking of the match for a tug on Carey. The introduction of Humphrey sparked a flurry of action in front of the St Mirren goal. Firstly, the Jamaican acres of space to run in to, before cutting in to the box and firing just wide via a deflection. He then won two corners for the home side, which were both cleared to safety. Mooy then had a clear run at goal down the left, but his shot was comfortable for Randolph to smother.
With ten minutes remaining, Steven Thompson almost poked home at the back post for St Mirren, but his opportunistic effort fell well wide. The Republic of Ireland goalie then had to make two sharp stops from Thompson and Mooy, to keep the game level. Kenny McLean then had another fantastical effort, this time acrobatically volleying goalward from the edge of the box. Randolph again denied St Mireen the lead.
Down the other end, a Murphy header from Hateley’s cross would have burst the net had it not been for the reactions of Craig Samson. Kenny McLean completed a hat trick of spectacular chances without a goal when he broke free of the Well midfield and fired over form 18 yards. He was booked for a cynical foul on Humphrey before referee Calum Murray blew for full time.
[tab:As it happened]
Kris Jack at Fir Park
90 +1mins – McLean booked for cynical challenge on Humphrey.
90mins – 2 minutes of Added On Time.
89mins – Carey fires over form edge of the box after breaking past Jennings.
89mins – Saints sub: Teale on, Carey off.
86mins – Murphy header almost gives Well lead, but Samson saves superbly.
84mins – McLean strikes a wonderful acrobatic volley from the edge of the box that Randolph matches, tipping the effort over the bar.
82mins – Randolph makes 3 saves from, 2 from Thompson and 1 from Mooy, to keep the game level.
78mins – Corner leads to a goalmouth scramble eventually cleared.
75mins – Humphrey cuts in, as is his want and fires wide via a deflection.
71mins – Well double sub: Lasley and Daley off, Hughes and Humphrey on, Murphy booked.
Today’s Attendance – 4557, cheers for coming folks!
63mins: Buddies sub: Hasselbaink off, Mooy on.
Great goal by Goodwin, almost 2-1 Saints but McGowan rounds Randolph and blasts wide. Let off big time.
Goal: St Mirren: Jim Goodwin blasts a rocket pasts Darren Randolph from 25 yards. 1-1.
57mins – Daley causing no end of problems on right wins corner. Cleared to Lasley, who shoots over from 30 yards.
52mins – Lasley booked for persistent fouling.
48mins – Murphy out left plays in Law, whose weighted cross lands right on Higdon’s head and nestles in the bottom corner, 1-0 Well.
48mins – GOOOOOOAAAAALLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!! MICHAEL HIGDON.
47mins – McGowan gets in behind Well defence, but is called offside.
46mins – Daley bursts down the left and in to the box, squares form by-line, cleared for corner.
Half Time – Motherwell 0- 0 St Mirren. Entertaining game so far, no goals but some meaty challenges ad decent efforts on goal.
42mins – Nicky Law tries to emulate Jamie Murphy’s run from earlier, but final ball lets him down.
38mins – Kenny McLean rattles Randolph’s bar with a thundering effort from 35 yards. Good effort.
36mins – Higdon header cleared off line by Goodwin from Hateley corner. Daley booked for kicking ball away at Buddies free kick.
31mins – Murphy mazy run ends with Higdon effort blocked and Daley blazing wide from an angle. Mercurial run from the youngster.
26mins – Higdon flashes a header wide from Murphy cross, after Law does well to dispossess Saints defender on edge of box.
25mins – Law, Lasley and Daley combine to set up Higdon, but the big man’s first touch lets him down on penalty spot.
23mins – whole stadium thinks St Mirren have a penalty when Hutchinson brings down Tesselaar, but ref gives offside instead. Phew!
19mins – …which is swung to back post and headed wide by Hutchinson. Well slightly on top at the moment.
19mins – Higdon knocks down to Law, who sends Daley wide, cross cleared for corner…
14mins – Hateley free kick hits wall and cleared, Hasselbaink breaks and wins corner for Buddies.
11mins – Jennings booked for a foul on Carey, Goodwin for having a bit of afters, bit of a melee to spice things up!
8mins – Hammell cross for Higdon cleared for corner, after nice passing down left with Jennings, Law and Hammell.
4mins – Carey cuts in and shoots, Randolph spills it, but ball is humped clear.
2mins – Daley sneaks in behind and wins a corner off Goodwin, Hateley’s delivery too long and Jennings fouls Hasselbaink.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“It was a terrific game of football. There were no lulls, there were quick free-kicks, quick throw-ins.
“Both sets of players deserve an awful amount of credit, not only for making it a competitive game, it was a hard one to referee, but end to end.
“Both teams in the last 10 minutes were looking to win the game. I thought it would be cruel on any side to have lost.
“We scored a really good goal, great move and their goal was a terrific goal. It would have been nice once we got one to kick on and at times we played some really good stuff, but likewise so did they.
“It was a really good advert for Scottish football. I enjoyed it, if you can as a manager.”
St Mirren manager Danny Lennon:
“The players deserve great credit – not only did both teams try to win it but the manner they played
“The only thing that was missing was more goals. I thought the commitment, endeavour and intensity, it was like watching a game of tennis at times. Both goalkeepers had influential saves throughout the game.
“We’re always quick to put our own game down but that was a thoroughly entertaining game and something we can be proud of in Scotland. The pitch was a wee bit icy but it shows you if you have the bravery and philosophy to set your team out like that, and that’s credit to Stuart as well, you can play football that way.”