Motherwell reserves were unable to match the exploits of the first-team when they crashed to a two-nil defeat at the hands of St Johnstone this afternoon.
Saints were the much more experienced of the two sides with the Steelmen boasting six players still eligible for the Under 19s amongst their starters. However, ‘Well created enough chances in the first forty-five to win three matches and will be disappointed to lose the match at Alloa’s Recreation Park.
Lee Erwin and Bob McHugh were first to threaten after picking up a Zaine Francis-Angol square pass inside the area. Disaster though as they both appeared to get in each other’s way and the chances went a begging.
The McDiarmid Park side had early chances of their own; the lively Kudus Oyenuga caused problems all afternoon and came close with a bouncing drive from the edge of the area that had Willie Muir scrambling.
Further chances came and went from McHugh, both after great wing play from Chris Humphrey. His first effort had to be hooked off the line by a recover Saints defender; the second was comfortably saved by the visiting keeper.
Down the other end, Oyenuga again came close with a curling effort from the edge of the box that went just over before ‘Well almost got ahead after a move of sublime quality. Eleven passes involving eight different players was started and finished by Ross Forbes. The midfielder got on the end of a lovely Steven Lawless pass over the top but his stinging volley flew just wide.
Oyenuga was Saints main threat and he linked well with former ‘Well striker Cillian Sheridan to fire another strike at Muir. The young ‘Well stopper was equal to the task though and gathered at the second attempt.
However, minutes later, he would have no chance as the Spurs loanee smashed his side in front. The 18-year old collected some thirty-yards from goal, wriggled free from a few challenges before unleashing a low shot into the corner – 1-0 Saints.
‘Well could, and perhaps should have been level almost instantly. Straight from kick-off, a stray back pass allowed Erwin to collect deep inside enemy territory and his cut-back found Forbes on the edge. The midfielder saw his first shot blocked and the rebound volley comfortably saved. However, Saints botched the clearance and Carswell put ‘Well back on the attack. His ball into the box found McHugh unmarked but the former Scotland U19s striker couldn’t believe it when his low shot was expertly turned round the post.
Into the second half and Saints started on the front foot and had two quick fire chances to extend their lead. Sheridan fired a low shot that was well held by Muir and, shortly after, another shot flew at the ‘Well goal but the keeper was relieved to watch it hit the side net when a goal looked on.
Both teams were trading chances – Forbes fired over for ‘Well and Sheridan dragged a shot, from about the same distance, wide. Steven Lawless also had a half-volley comfortably saved by the Saints stopper.
With the game nearing its conclusion, Motherwell passed up a glorious chance to equalise. Humphrey made a terrific bursting run down the right reminiscent of a similar effort at Tynecastle last season. On that occasion, former hitman John Sutton was there to tap home from underneath the bar but, unfortunately for ‘Well, Forbes scooped his shot over. To be fair to the youngster, the ball did bounce just as he was about to strike it into the empty net.
To rub salt into the wounds, Saints’ young substitute scored late on to make it 2-0 – collecting a neat ball over the top to power past Muir.
Motherwell: Muir, Green, Francis-Angol, Page, Murray, Craswell, Forbes, Humphrey, Lawless, McHugh, Erwin
Subs: Hetherington, Pollock, Howarth
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