The Motherwell Matchday Experience ended in a battling 3-2 victory for the Stevie Kirk led ‘Away’ team.
Both teams took to the field to the haunting tone of the Champions League theme booming from the Fir Park PA system.
The opening stages were frantic as both teams traded possession and put together neat patterns of play. However, it would be the vibrant and clever attack of the ‘Away’ side that would draw first blood.
Gareth Kerr found space on the left and following some nifty footwork to beat his marker, he cut the ball across the face of goal. Substitute James Thewliss took a quick touch to control before teeing up Fraser Anderson who was left with time and space to pick his spot and swept home from just inside the eighteen-yard box.
The ‘Away’ side were setting the pace but were living dangerously at the back with the long direct ball over the top causing problems.
However, it was a move of some quality that would bring the Claret and Amber side level just before the half-hour. Jonathan Warnock collected on the half-way line and immediately opened the game up with a neat cross-field pass to the waiting Phil Speedie. The left full-back held on to the ball for just the right amount of time before releasing Warnock, who had kept his run going, down the flank.
The forward threw over a brilliant first-time cross towards the centre of the box where Ian Buchanan was lurking. The veteran kept his composure to shift the ball away from Alistair Logan and on to his favoured right foot before drilling it low past the helpless Allan Burton; his fifth goal in five Fir Park matches dating back to the old Football Aid days.
Buchanan celebrated with Scott Leitch on the touchline but the joy was short-lived as the visitors immediately regained the advantage. Davie Tonner and Kerr got the game underway and the former casually strolled forward towards the edge of the centre-circle before sliding in his strike-partner who incredibly found himself in on goal.
His first touch took him away from the covering defenders; his second was to lash the ball under Martin Whiteside for 2-1.
Just before the interval, the silvers side made it three. Tonner and Stuart Reilly combined on the right flank and when the ball eventually made its way back to the striker, his thundering effort came back off the underside of the crossbar with Whiteside at full stretch.
Kerr was sharpest to the rebound and nipped in ahead of Jack Reid to head the ball into an unguarded net for his second of the afternoon.
3-1 at the interval and Stevie Kirk’s men looked well on top. But the second half was a much more even affair with the ‘Home’ side stroking it about with some degree of confidence.
With twenty minutes left on the clock things got interesting when referee Scott Jamieson awarded the hosts a controversial penalty. Goalscorer Buchanan picked up the ball deep on the left and his through-pass was inch-perfect for the onrushing Jory Robertson. Before he could get to the ball, he tumbled to the ground with Captain Finlay Ferguson in close attendance.
Contact looked minimal but the official, who was right up with play, pointed to the spot. There were wild protests from the home side, led by Ferguson, but the referee was having none of it. Robertson and Buchanan were both keen to take the kick but the youngster eventually placed it on the spot.
His low effort was brilliantly saved by Burton low to his right but he was helpless to stop the rebounded shot which Robertson coolly dinked in from closer range with some aplomb.
It was a hectic finish to the game with both sides trading chances but it finished 3-2 to the ‘Away’ side with both teams warmly applauded off the park by the 207 fans in the Phil O’Donnell Stand.
Home: Whiteside, N. MacLeod, A. MacLeod, Reid, McEwan, Johnston, Ramage, Brazil, Warnock, Wilson, Muir, Speedie, Robertson, Buchanan
Goals: Buchanan (29), Robertson (71)
Away: Burton, A. Reilly, Bruce, Logan, Ferguson, Anderson, Williamson, S. Reilly, Tonner, Graham, Kerr, Thewliss, Palmer, Lynch
Goals: Anderson (14), Kerr (30) (42)
Referee: Scott Jamieson
-WATCH THE GOALS FLY IN ON MFC TV-