Kris Jack at Fir Park
Motherwell slipped out of the top three for the first time this season as they slumped to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Inverness.
Terry Butcher’s men recorded their first win at Fir Park since 2006 in a game where Motherwell could not turn their possession and play in to goals. A terrific strike from Grégory Tadé was enough to send Caley back up the A9 with a win and their first clean sheet of the season.
Michael Higdon, Keith Lasley and Shaun Hutchinson returned to the starting line up having missed the Scottish Cup win over Queen’s Park a week ago, with Steve Jennings making the bench after his league suspension and subsequent hamstring niggle. Nick Ross and Greg Tansey were back in the fold for Inverness, with new loan signing Steve Williams having to make do with a place on the bench.
A minute’s silence was held before kick off in tribute to former Chairman, Bill Dickie, who passed away earlier in the week. The silence was impeccably kept before Motherwell kicked off towards the Davie Cooper Stand, an unfamiliar start to what the fans are accustomed to.
Both teams started the game brightly, with Motherwell looking to have a better out ball than the visitors in the opening stages. As has been the norm this season, pretty passing play and wide wing running were the home side’s formula, but they could not break down the Invernesss defence. Despite it looking fairly fragile, the Thistle backline managed to hoof balls away all game, albeit in the most difficult ways they could find.
Motherwell created the best chances of the opening period, with Shaun Hutchinson only just failing to connect with a Michael Higdon knockdown from a corner, before a great flowing move started by Murphy on the halfway line played in Nicky Law. Law’s cute ball released Tim Clancy, who was bombing down the right to cross for Higdon, who couldn’t stretch enough to poke home form the penalty spot.
Tadé gave a glimpse of what he could offer in this game when he sprinted past Stevie Hammell to get in to the box with Inverness’s first real attack, but Hutchinson and Lasley got back to crowd him out just in time. At the other end, there was big shout for a penalty from the ‘Well fans when Higdon seemed to be pushed in the box but referee Madden was having none of it, infuriating the home support. Indeed, he would turn down another three penalty claims for the Steelmen throughout the game.
The game was running end to end now and a fine lay off by Omar Daley sent Jamie Murphy bearing down on Ryan Esson’s goal. However, the young forward took a touch too much as he strode in to the box and his effort was saved by Esson. From the corner, the Caley keeper made a hash of his clearance before the ball was hooked to safety.
The second penalty claim came when a ball in from the right bounced in front of Roman Golobar as he slipped in the box and the ball looked to roll up his arm. Once more, no spot kick was awarded, as the home side followers groaned from the stands. Greg Tansey and Billy McKay both had tame efforts on Randolph’s goal before Omar Daley blew the best chance of the game for Motherwell.
A lovely flick form Higdon picked out Murphy on the edge of the box, who played a perfectly weighted ball in to the path of the Jamaican. His quick feet created space to shot but instead of finding the net, he found the back of the Cooper from around the penalty spot. It was a gilt edged opportunity to take the lead, but the finish couldn’t match the build up.
Inverness were quicker out of the traps at the start of the second half with Hayes and Lee Cox winning the midfield battle. Both med watched efforts float over the bar as the visitors grabbed a foothold on the game.
The Motherwell fans were on their feet in frustration twice in the space of a few minutes when Kenny Gillet was let off with not one, but two handball claims in the box. Keith Lasley then latched on to a cleared corner, but his effort was too straight at Esson, who spilled the shot before gathering with Daley bearing down on him.
Tadé was the next to have a crack at goal and brought out a fine save from Darren Randolph when he was presented with a one on one with the Irish goalie. However, the Frenchman was to beat Randolph with an exquisite turn and shot form 20 yards to give Inverness the lead. A break down the left from Graeme Shinnie allowed the former Raith Rovers striker to make space at the edge of the box. As he received the pass, he turned off his marker and crashed a stunning drive in to the top right hand corner, with Randolph at full stretch.
Stuart McCall switched things up, replacing Daley and Law with Chris Humphrey and Henrik Ojamaa, with 20 minutes to go, but despite their fresh legs, they could not break down a stubborn Inverness defence. Terry Butcher countered by sending on two defenders for forwards as they looked to close the game out. Ojamaa looked the most likely to create a leveller for Motherwell, his trickery on the left allowing him space to turn and cross for Higdon. However Gillet’s miss-kick wrongfooted the Scouse frontman just as he was about to pull the trigger, and the chance was gone.
Inverness saw the game out and recorded their first win at Fir Park for some time, and recorded their first clean sheet of the season. It was another frustrating afternoon for Motherwell as their home hoodoo continued, compounded by the 5-2 victory for Hearts over St Mirren, which drops ‘Well to fourth in the SPL.
[tab:As it happened]
The Press Association at Fir Park
Full Time – The final whistle goes and the game is over.
89mins – Tim Clancy concedes a free kick for a foul on Gregory Tade. Johnny Hayes restarts play with the free kick.
87mins – Tom Hateley sends in a cross, Kenny Gillet manages to make a clearance.
87mins – Substitution David Proctor is brought on as a substitute for Billy McKay.
87mins – Graeme Shinnie concedes a free kick for a foul on Chris Humphrey.
85mins – Substitution Stephen Craigan leaves the field to be replaced by Steve Jennings.
85mins – Greg Tansey fouled by Chris Humphrey, the ref awards a free kick. Ryan Esson restarts play with the free kick.
82mins – Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Michael Higdon by Greg Tansey. Free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
79mins – Foul by Graeme Shinnie on Chris Humphrey, free kick awarded. Darren Randolph takes the direct free kick.
75mins – Clearance made by Roman Golobart.
75mins – Substitution Steve Williams replaces Nick Ross.
75mins – Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Henrik Ojamaa by Thomas Piermayr. Tom Hateley produces a shot on goal direct from the free kick, Thomas Piermayr gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Tom Hateley,
70mins – Substitution Chris Humphrey on for Nicky Law.
70mins – Substitution Henrik Ojamaa comes on in place of Omar Daley.
68mins – Stevie Hammell concedes a free kick for a foul on Roman Golobart. Direct free kick taken by Ryan Esson.
66mins – The assist for the goal came from Nick Ross.
66mins – GOAL – Gregory Tade- Motherwell 0 – 1 Inverness CT – Gregory Tade gets on the score sheet with a goal from just outside the area to the top left corner of the goal. Motherwell 0-1 Inverness CT.
63mins – Gregory Tade takes a shot. Save made by Darren Randolph. Greg Tansey takes a corner.
62mins – Omar Daley fouled by Roman Golobart, the ref awards a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.
58mins – The official flags Billy McKay offside. Keith Lasley takes the free kick.
56mins – Corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley to the near post, Ryan Esson makes a save. Tom Hateley takes the inswinging corner, Gregory Tade manages to make a clearance.
54mins – Johnny Hayes takes a shot. Keith Lasley gets a block in. Inswinging corner taken right-footed by Greg Tansey from the right by-line, Darren Randolph makes a save.
52mins – Foul by Billy McKay on Stevie Hammell, free kick awarded. Direct free kick taken by Stevie Hammell.
47mins – Shot from just outside the area by Johnny Hayes misses to the left of the target.
47mins – Keith Lasley takes a shot from 20 yards. Ryan Esson makes a brilliant save.
45mins – Johnny Hayes takes a shot. Stephen Craigan gets a block in. Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Greg Tansey from the left by-line to the near post. Corner taken by Johnny Hayes from the right by-line played to the near post, clearance made by Michael Higdon.
45mins – The game restarts for the second half.
Half Time – The ref blows to signal half-time.
44mins – Shot by Greg Tansey. Save by Darren Randolph.
43mins – Gregory Tade produces a drilled right-footed shot from 12 yards. Save made by Darren Randolph.
42mins – Foul by Greg Tansey on Omar Daley, free kick awarded. Tom Hateley crosses the ball in from the free kick, Roman Golobart manages to make a clearance.
41mins – Johnny Hayes takes a shot from just inside the penalty box which clears the crossbar.
37mins – Cross/shot by Omar Daley,
33mins – Gregory Tade has shot on goal from just outside the box which goes wide of the right-hand upright.
32mins – Unfair challenge on Tim Clancy by Gregory Tade results in a free kick. Darren Randolph takes the direct free kick.
27mins – Tom Hateley takes the outswinging corner, Greg Tansey manages to make a clearance.
25mins – Lee Cox has an effort at goal from 12 yards. Corner taken by Johnny Hayes from the right by-line to the near post, clearance by Tom Hateley.
22mins – Unfair challenge on Tom Hateley by Nick Ross results in a free kick. Free kick taken by Tom Hateley.
19mins – Effort on goal by Michael Higdon from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target. Corner taken by Tom Hateley played to the near post, Headed effort from inside the area by Tim Clancy misses to the left of the goal.
19mins – Outswinging corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley from the right by-line to the near post, Effort on goal by Omar Daley from deep inside the area goes harmlessly over the bar. Clearance by Greg Tansey.
19mins – Omar Daley takes a shot. Ryan Esson gets a block in.
17mins – Michael Higdon produces a volleyed right-footed shot from deep inside the area which goes wide of the left-hand post.
16mins – Corner taken by Greg Tansey from the left by-line to the near post, clearance made by Michael Higdon.
16mins – Corner taken by Tom Hateley played to the near post.
14mins – Foul by Greg Tansey on Nicky Law, free kick awarded. Nicky Law restarts play with the free kick.
13mins – Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Roman Golobart by Michael Higdon. Billy McKay takes the free kick.
12mins – The official flags Billy McKay offside. Darren Randolph restarts play with the free kick.
8mins – Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Nicky Law by Greg Tansey. Shaun Hutchinson takes the free kick.
6mins -Tom Hateley challenges Gregory Tade unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Lee Cox.
5mins – Corner taken right-footed by Tom Hateley from the left by-line, Michael Higdon has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide right of the goal.
3mins – Keith Lasley challenges Thomas Piermayr unfairly and gives away a free kick. Free kick taken by Ryan Esson.
1min – The game gets underway.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I don’t think we deserved to lose. We didn’t have the composure in the first half to take the opportunities we created. I always felt it would be a tight game. At half-time I thought it would be one goal that won it and it was a hell of a strike by Tade.
“I don’t think we created enough in the second half to win the game.
“I thought there were a lot of decisions for both sides that I think everyone saw apart from the referee unfortunately, but I’m not blaming the referee for the result.”
Inverness Caley manager Terry Butcher:
“To get a clean sheet, to win, that’s four matches unbeaten, is like some sort of dream. Me and Maurice (Malpas) sat there in the dressing room and said ‘what do we say to the players now?’.”
“It was almost the perfect day for us. The saddest thing is not seeing Bill Dickie in the tunnel. Normally you come off and shake his hand – win, lose or draw. I kept thinking he was there. It’s so natural and common for him to be there but he wasn’t.
“Motherwell Football Club have had to put up with a lot of losses and my heart goes out to the club. It was mixed emotions coming down here anyway irrespective of the result.”