Andy Ross at Fir Park
Ten-man Motherwell moved back into third place with an excellent 3-1 victory over Dunfermline at Fir Park this evening.
After the dismissal of skipper Stephen Craigan, Henrik Ojamaa opened the scoring on his first full start for the club before Nicky Law doubled the hosts’ lead.
Andy Kirk restored hope for the Dunfermline on 63 minutes, before substitute Chris Humphrey netted ten minutes from time to secure all three points for the Fir Park side.
Defeat for Dunfermline means they remain one point adrift at the foot of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Dunfermline looked to test Motherwell keeper Darren Randolph in the opening minutes, but Mark Kerr’s effort was well wide of the target. The hosts were struggling to create an opening of their own and Jamie Murphy’s stinging effort was well blocked by Alex Keddie.
After 13 minutes the home support were angered when Henrik Ojamaa was flagged for offside as he raced through on Iain Turner’s goal following an excellent through-ball by Steve Jennings.
There was more controversy just three minutes later when Motherwell captain Stephen Craigan was dismissed by referee Alan Muir following a clash with Andrew Barrowman. The Dunfermline striker was also booked for his part in proceedings.
Craigan appeared to move his head towards Barrowman and Muir wasted little time in flashing a red card.
Stuart McCall responded to the dismissal of his skipper by replacing Murphy with Tim Clancy as he attempted to bolster his sides’ defence. From the resulting free-kick, Dunfermline came close to breaking the deadlock with Liam Buchanan forcing Randolph into a smart stop.
Ojamaa repaid McCall’s decision to hand him his first ever league start when he fired Motherwell in front after 29 minutes.
The Estonian striker twisted and turned on the edge of the penalty box before striking a low shot which bounced over the outstretched arms of Turner in the Dunfermline goal.
The visitors responded with a flurry of promising attacks and Joe Cardle brought out an excellent save from Randolph with his powerful close-range effort.
The Motherwell fans continued to vent their anger at referee Muir, as the whistler showed yellow cards to Clancy and then Ojamaa before the interval.
Motherwell started the second half brightly as they looked to build on their slender advantage.
Jennings flashed a shot wide of the target before the home side doubled their lead after 52 minutes.
Ojamaa got on the end of Michael Higdon’s flick and he laid the ball to Nicky Law who unleashed a superb drive into the roof of the net.
In a bid to help find his side a way back into the match Jim McIntyre introduced Paul Willis to replace Cardle.
Willis’ introduction seemed to add some extra width to the visitors’ game and on 63 minutes they gave their small band of travelling supporters some hope when Andy Kirk connected perfectly with Paddy Boyle’s cross to leave Randolph with no chance.
The hosts made their second switch of the night after 71 minutes when the influential Ojamaa made way for Robert McHugh.
Dunfermline continued to probe for an equaliser and Randolph did well to hold Willis’ shot from range.
Martin Hardie was introduced to replace Buchanan with 15 minutes remaining and Motherwell also made a change as Chris Humphrey came on in place of Law.
The visitors continued their assault on the Motherwell goal and Kirk passed up a glorious opportunity to level the match on 78 minutes when he found space in the box after good work from David Graham but his strike was inches past the post.
With ten minutes remaining Motherwell put the game out of the reach of their opponents, McHugh latched on to Randolph’s long ball and he found Chris Humphrey who coolly slotted the ball past Turner.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
93mins – FULL TIME! Motherwell 3 – 1 Dunfermline.
90mins – 3 minutes added on time
85mins – 3,772 fans here tonight. ‘Well support brilliant. Special mention to the singing section in the east. They’ve never shut up!
83mins – A terrific night of entertainment at Fir Park. We’ve been superb with every player giving his all for the cause.
80mins – 3 – 1 The sub capitilises on a Higdon flick-on which McHugh brought down wonderfully. Cool finish from Chris.
75mins – ‘WELL SUB: Law off, Humphrey on.
75mins – DUNFERMLINE SUB: Buchanan off, Hardy on.
74mins – Willis unlucky with a left footed drive straight into Randolph’s arms.
71mins – Ojamaa has been tremendous tonight. Deserving of his ovation as he left the park.
71mins – WELL SUB: Ojamaa off for McHugh
65mins – And now a corner for the Pars. Well look a little rocked.
62mins: GOAL- Dunfermline, Andy Kirk
56mins — DUNFERMLINE SUB: Cardle off for Willis
52mins – It’s 2 – 0. Great work from Ojamaa lays in Lawsy who bangs in his first of the season. Great strike!
46mins – Ball breaks to Jennings on the edge of the edge of the box but his volley bounces harmlessly past Turner’s post.
45mins – Teams are back out. No changes. Huge half for both teams. More of the same please boys!
HALF-TIME: And the half time whistle blows. ‘Well go in as 1-0 leaders.
45mins – 2 minutes added on.
43mins – Approaching half time. Few scares but to be expected with 10 men. Enthralling stuff. Can the ‘Well hold out?
37mins – Ironic cheers as he finally gives the home side a favourable decision. Free kick just inside the Pars half.
35mins – Alan Muir making no friends inside Fir Park tonight. The ‘Well faithful are furious with him!
34mins – Good spell of pressure from Dunfermline with 3 corners in a row, each seemingly resulting in a penalty claim for the Pars.
31mins – Clancy booked for a challenge on the edge of the box. Soft, is one way to describe that!
28mins – 1 – 0 ‘Well! Absolutely brilliant goal from the little Estonian. Quick foot work on the edge and a lovely curler into bottom corner.
26mins – DUNFERMLINE SUB: Barrowman off for Kirk
24mins – Uphill struggle for the Steelmen now with 10 men. Still, with 24 minutes on the clock, they are coping admirably and are arguably on top.
18mins – ‘WELL SUB: Tim Clancy on for Jamie Murphy.
17mins – RED CARD: Stephen Craigan – Referee Alan Muir seems to suggest a headbutt.
16mins – Cardle (I think) goes down in the box after minimal contact with Hutchinson, ref dismisses his half hearted claim
15mins – Ojamma flagged for offside denying what would have surely been a goal. Looked a tight one.
10mins – Ojamma breaks down the right hand side but his deflected cross trickles agonisingly across the box with no takers
5mins – Quiet start. Ojamaa making a nuisance of himself with energetic runs not quite coming off.
1min– And we’re off! ‘Well kick off. Come on!
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“We talked about before the game about how big an incentive Dunfermline had to win the game after their great result on Saturday but we had a massive incentive too.
“We were constantly reminded of how long it had been since we last won at home, tonight we scored three good goals and the players kept their energy levels up very well – it’s a happy but tired dressing room.”
Dunfermline manager Jim McIntyre:
“There’s a reason that we are bottom of the league and that is our consistency levels.
“When Motherwell went down to ten men that was the perfect chance to go and grab the game by the scruff of the neck, but we didn’t pass the ball well or play with enough tempo to force Motherwell into making mistakes.
“After you come off a result like the one we had on Saturday and with the early sending-off you hope that you can build on that but we were unable to do that tonight.”