Motherwell’s preparation for the new season got off to a dissapointing start as they fell to a 4-0 defeat against Ayr United at Somerset Park.
Ross Robertson opened the scoring before Michael Moffat doubled the hosts’ lead, there was further misery after the break as Martyn Campbell headed home on 50 minutes and David Sinclair’s curling effort left Lee Hollis helpless with 20 minutes remaining.
Stuart McCall handed a starting berth to trialist Simon Ramsden, the former Bradford City man partnering Jonathan Page at the heart of the Steelmen defence.
After enjoying the majority of the opening possession, Motherwell managed their first effort on goal when Jamie Murphy dragged an effort wide after Darren Brownlie had carelessly lost possession.
Murphy fired a shot into the side netting two minutes later, before passing up a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock.
Michael Higdon’s threaded pass left the former Scotland U21 International charging through on goal, however the ball held up on the dry surface and he lost his footing with just the keeper to beat.
The 22-year-old could have been forgiven for thinking it wasn’t going to be his day when he failed to convert his fourth chance of the opening 15 minutes – latching on to Steven Hammell’s superb long ball before failing to hit the target.
Tom Hateley struck wide from Higdon’s lay-off a minute before the hosts incredibly opened the scoring with their first chance of the match.
Anthony Marennghi’s floated cross found Robertson who looped a header beyond the despairing Darren Randolph. TV evidence may show it was Steven Saunders’ headed clearance that rebounded off the Ayr-man.
Things got worse for the visitors on 27 minutes when Chrs Humphrey’s poor back-pass was intercepted by Moffat and the striker had little problems slotting home from six-yards.
It was astonishing stuff with the Steelmen pretty much dominant in terms of possession and chances but two goals behind.
The majority of the remainder of the first-half was played out in the middle of the park – bringing to an end a disappointing first 45 minutes of pre-season for McCall’s men.
The Fir Park boss made two changes at the interval, Estonian Henrik Ojamaa replaced Higdon while Jamaican Omar Daley was introduced in place of Humphrey.
It was the hosts who created the first opportunity of the second half when Mark Shankland had an effort bravely blocked by Steven Saunders.
From the resulting corner Campbell met the ball with a diving header at the front post to stretch Ayr’s lead to three.
Ojamaa blazed over the bar as Motherwell tried to find a way back into the game and the substitute was unlucky to see his shot roll across the goal-line before being turned away for a corner ten minutes later.
With 25 minutes remaining McCall made SEVEN changes – Nicky Devlin, Euan Murray, Zaine Francis-Angol, Josh Watt, Steven Hetherington, Lee Hollis and Stuart Carswell all introduced.
It did little to change the pattern of the game however, Sinclair curled a superb effort beyond Hollis on 70 minutes to continue a miserable afternoon for the men in Claret and Amber.
The confidence was flowing through the United side and David Sinclair shot over before a wonderful piece of individual skill from Moffat almost resulted in a fifth for the home side.
Daley struck the wall with a free-kick in the dying stages of the match but it would be as close as the visitors would come to a consolation.
McCall’s men will now look to bounce back quickly when they travel to Starks Park for a friendly encounter against Raith Rovers.
Motherwell: Randolph, Saunders, Hammell, Page, Ramsden, Lasley, Hateley, Law, Humphrey, Higdon, Murphy
Subs: Hollis, Murray, Francis-Angol, Devlin, Carswell, Hetherington, Watt, Daley, Ojamaa, Erwin