Kris Jack at Tannadice
A Michael Higdon goal four minutes from time earned Motherwell a 1-1 draw in a lively game at Tannadice.
‘Well had trailed for most of the match after a Stephen Craigan own goal had put Dundee United ahead in the 27th minute.
However, a super substitute performance from Henrik Ojamaa, helped Motherwell to their first SPL point of 2012.
The welcome return of Steve Jennings after injury and suspension was a boost to Stuart McCall’s side as they looked to bounce back from three league defeats in a row. Those games also saw Motherwell draw a blank in each of them, but the familiar sight of Michael Higdon, Jamie Murphy and Omar Daley in attack was installed in the hope of providing some much needed goals.
Peter Houston’s side had one change from the starting XI that lost to Celtic last time out, with Stuart Armstrong coming in for Willo Flood. The ever dangerous Jon Daly led the Dundee United front line, supported by Gary Mackay-Steven and Johnny Russell.
The blustery conditions in the City of Discovery threatened to spoil the game, much like it had when the sides drew 0-0 at Fir Park in December. The swirling wind made controlling the ball in the middle of the park difficult in the early battles, but didn’t deter either side from playing attacking football.
The first effort on goal came from a Tom Hateley free kick, when Keith Lasley was fouled on the edge of the box. The right back’s dipping drive bounced in front of Pernis, but the United keeper palmed the ball away from danger.
In reply, former Airdrie man Gary Mackay-Steven burst through the ‘Well midfield to bear down on Darren Randolph’s goal but his effort was blasted well over when he should have hit the target.
Play quickly swung back down the other end as the Steelmen had two great opportunities to test Pernis. Omar Daley worked some space on the edge of the box, cut in and fired in a shot which had the sting taken off it by a deflection. Steven Hammell then floated a free kick to the back post, but it was just too deep for Higdon to connect with.
Chances were being created for both sides and Jon Daly almost scored his obligatory goal against Motherwell when he headed over from Paul Dixon’s bouncing cross.
Another Hammell delivery was taken off of Higdon’s head by the outstretched hand of Pernis before John Rankin brought a fantastic save from Darren Randolph after good play by Jon Daly.
It was a brilliant save that prevented a certain goal, but the Irishman’s cleansheet was to be broken a few minutes later.
Dixon burst down the left wing before sending a low cross into the box which was poked into the net off the boot of Stephen Craigan. It was a blow to Motherwell, who didn’t deserve to be behind, but hadn’t done enough in front of goal to merit a lead of their own.
It was almost two but for the reflexes of Darren Randolph who made another vital save as Johnny Russell sprinted through on goal. The big keeper spread himself well to save with his feet to keep the score at 1-0.
As the half came to an end, Nicky Law had a rare shot at goal and Mackay-Steven rippled the side netting with a drive form the edge of the box but neither side could force another goal to add to Craigan’s unfortunate opener.
The second half began with the weather still making the flight for the ball somewhat unpredictable. ‘Well were the first to threaten, when Law played in Higdon, whose lay off to Murphy was deflected for a corner from the young strikers shot.
The game was being played in midfield with few chances being created, when Henrik Ojamaa was brought on for Daley. Within minutes of his introduction, Motherwell’s shape changed, as did their fortune.
Jamie Murphy was able to manoeuvre in the box from Ojamaa’s flick on, only to see his effort saved by Pernis at his front post. Steven Hammell then curled a free kick wide after the Estonian was brought down outside the box. Pernis then was the grateful recipient of a shot from Murphy, after a good 1-2 with Lasley.
It was all Motherwell at this point and Lasley was unlucky to see his cross headed wide by Dillon, when it could easily have been turned in to his own net. Murphy and Higdon then spurned chances for an equaliser, when the young forward had a shot deflected wide, before the former St Mirren man headed wide when he should have at least tested the keeper.
John Rankin was then thwarted once more by Darren Randolph, when his first time shot was batted out by the goalie. This save spurred Motherwell on and on 86 minutes, they levelled. Ojamaa, latched on to a ball down the left hand side and held off Dillon, before firing in a low cross along the six-yard line. Michael Higdon peeled off Gavin Gunning and with his left foot, blasted a first time shot past Pernis to score his tenth of the season.
Indeed, Motherwell could have had a great opportunity to snatch a late winner, when the lively Ojamaa darted between two Dundee United defenders and looked to be fouled as he went for the ball. However, referee Stevie O’Reilly knocked back his appeal.
Motherwell left Tannadice content with the point, and happy to be back amongst the goals. Attention will now turn to Tuesday night’s game against Dunfermline at Fir Park, as they look to regain third place in the SPL.
[tab:As it happened]
Alan Burrows at Tannadice
Full Time: Dundee Utd 1 – 1 Motherwell
90mins – United have one last effort – a speculative effort from Robertson that goes miles wide.
88mins – Penalty shout there. Ojamaa skips in between two United defenders and hits the deck. No penalty from O’Reilly!
86mins – Made by Ojamaa – Runs the channel – his cut back finds the big man and he buries for his 10th of the season,
GOOOOOOALLLLLLLL Higdon!!!!! GET IN THERE!
84mins – Great chance for Higdon again. Terrific reverse pass plays the big man in but he snatches at it and it goes way over.83mins – Great save again from Randolph – Shot from Rankin just on the edge of the area.
80mins – Swanson comes on for McKay-Steven!
77mins – Great chance for Higdon… Ball across by Hateley finds the big striker. Heads wide from about five yards out.
75mins – United sub – Richie Ryan is on for Stuart Armstrong.
74mins – Great play by Ojamaa to keep the ball in. Cross into the box is laid off by Higdon for Murphy. Shot deflected wide for a corner.
71mins – Crowd announced as 5969
68mins – Great ball from Nicky Law almost leads to an equaliser. Utd somehow get it clear for a corner which is cleared
66mins – Former ‘Well man Gunning comes in on place of Nielsen who was on a yellow card.
65mins – Good bursting run from Ojamaa is halted by Nielsen – free-kick at the edge of the area. Hammell takes but it goes wide.
62mins – Half decent low shot from Murphy is gobbled up by Pernis at the second attempt.
61mins – Craigan booked for dissent
61mins – Omar Daley goes off and is replaced by Estonian U21 International Henrik Ojamaa.
51mins – Ball into the box by Law. Teed up by Higdon for Murphy but shot is blocked wide by Robertson. Corner from Hateley is cleared
50mins – Poor start from both teams. Weather isn’t helping though – wind is at its strongest just now.
45mins – The second half gets underway – Motherwell get it going and just in time, the wind and rain gets up again.
43mins – Robbie Nielsen booked for a crude foul on Omar Daley over on the left touchline. Free kick for ‘Well!
41mins – Tame effort from Jon Daly from distance thankfully drops well wide of Randolph’s post.
40mins – Gary MacKay-Steven flashes a shot inches wide of the post. Again it comes from a Well mistake. Shooting ourself in the foot.
36mins – Daly flashes a header wide with Daley careless in midfield. Craigan and Hutchinson do well to stop the striker getting to the ball.
34mins – Half decent effort from ‘Well – Ball towards Higgy – header tee up for Nicky Law who smashes a low shot at goal but saved Pernis.
33mins – Another great save by Randolph – this time with his foot. Shot from the edge of the box by Armstrong (I think)
31mins – Great build-up play between Jennings and Murphy. Ball falls to Higdon but he doesn’t get a hold of it and Pernis saves.
30mins – Keith Lasley shot from distance is comfortably held by Pernis in the United goal. Good reaction from ‘Well!
28mins – Run down the left by Dixon with Jenno on the chase. Ball across the face and Russell / Craigan go in. Ball squirms in at near post
GOAL – Dundee United – Either Russell or Stephen Craigan OG!
24mins – Incredible save from Randolph. Low shot from Rankin from just inside the area – Great hand by the big GK then up to collect.
23mins – Great ball from Hammell almost finds Higgy at the back post but it is taken off his head by a super Pernis punch.
19mins – I hope it is warm wherever you are folks as it is absolutely freezing in Dundee.
18mins – Long throw by Nielsen is cleared by the Steelmen defence who are holding firm against the United attacks so far (just at times)
16mins – Good ball across goal from Stuart Armstrong. Daly gets up above Hammell but header goes over the bar,,,, thankfully!
12mins – Decent Well move. Law and Higdon combine on the edge. Tee up Omar Daley but his low shot is weak and easy for Pernis to catch.
9mins – Good block by Stephen Craigan in front of his own goal. Bursting run and low ball across the face by Rankin – The skipper clears!
6mins – Bursting run on the counter by M-Stevens. Shot from distance sails into the Eddie Thompson Stand behind the goal.
4mins – Good strike by @TomHateley6 – low save down to his right and the ball is eventually cleared. Good start for ;Well!
4mins – Free-kick for ‘Well just outside the box… Hateley to take but the ball is blowing about!
3mins – Couple of shots from @Jamiemurphy89 and Michael Higdon are blocked by the United defence…
1min – Corner for United inside the opening 30 seconds. Motherwell get it clear!
Kick-Off – Dundee United to kick-off! C’mon the Well!!!!!!!!!!
Dundee Utd manager Peter Houston:
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“It was a test of character for the lads after going behind, but they had a go and we deserved the point.
“I was pleased how we started the game. We had a few chances and moved the ball well.
“But United were stronger in the first half and Darren Randolph had to pull off a few good saves.
“United are a strong side going forward and they really showed that in the first half.
“However, I always felt we could get back in. Henrik Ojamaa made a difference when he came on and the second half performance was excellent.”