Kris Jack at Fir Park
A Nicky Law screamer earned Motherwell a credible draw against an Everton side full of star names in Stevie Hammell’s testimonial.
Law’s second half strike cancelled out a header from Toffee’s defender Shane Duffy, which gave the Liverpudlian’s a half time lead. Despite sharing just the two goals, both sides created a number of chances in as entertaining game as you will see for a pre season testimonial.
The game of course was to honour the veteran left back and the stature of the opponents from Goodison Park was testament to the appreciation of the 30-year-old’s efforts in Claret and Amber.
He rightfully took the captain’s armband and place at left back in an unfamiliar back four, made up with trialist Simon Ramsden and young Adam Cummins. Tom Hateley made up the back quartet, with Steven Saunders and Jonathan Page rested from the draw at Raith.
With the Arbroath game called off in midweek, Nicky Law, Henrik Ojamaa and Chris Humphrey missed out on a run about but we’re reinstated for today’s game, sending impressive youngster Steven Hetherington back to the bench. He was in good company though as a certain James McFadden, called upon by his buddy Hammell, started the game as a sub.
Everton clearly weren’t taking the game lightly; with a starting eleven not out of place in a full Premiership match. Tim Cahill, Merouane Fellaini and Sylvain Distain all started for David Moyes’ men, with former Rangers men Steven Naismith and Nikica Jelavic on the bench.
The visitors started the game the more composed, with some crisp passing and possession, but Michael Higdon had the first pop at goal with a speculative effort from 30-yards which sailed wide. Minutes later Chris Humphrey looked keen to get past Tony Hibbert early on and after ghosting past the left back, Howard did well to catch his whipped cross.
Leon Osman passed up a great chance to five Everton the lead when he rose highest to Anichebe’s cross, but his header went v Darren Randolph’s bar. It served as a warning as Anichebe himself then fired over the bar, after Fellaini had stumbled on the ball.
Down the other end and a trip on Keith Lasley by Fellaini allowed Stevie Hammell a chance to score on his big game, but the left back’s free kick from 25 yards was deflected over for a corner. Jamie Murphy was then unfortunate to see an effort deflected onto the post after getting to the by-line.
Everton’s Greek striker Apostolos Vellios then should have given the visitors the lead when Coleman picked him out on the penalty spot, but a great block by Cummins kept the Well goal intact. Up the other end, Higdon, Ojamaa and Ramsden passed up decent chances, before Everton got themselves ahead.
Anichebe’s short corner made its way back to the big striker, and his stood up cross towards the back post was headed across Randolph and in off the post by Duffy. His run had not been spotted by the ‘Well rearguard as he rose to prod home the opener one 33 minutes. There were some complaints towards referee Stevie O’Reilly about climbing but the official wasn’t interested.
Everton then looked to extend the lead with Fellaini and Cahill testing Randolph from distance. In reply, Murphy and Law both pulled shots wide for Motherwell as the half came to an end.
Lee Hollis replaced Randolph in goal for the Steelmen for the second half, with David Moyes making a slew of changes to his side. Hollis was the first sub to impress though, making a great save from Fellaini just after the restart.
Estonian International Ojamaa then had a great chance to tie the game when played in by Lasley but his effort drifted wide. Former Ranger Nikica Jelavic then played n Fellaini, but Cummins was again there to thwart the danger.
With the game poised, ‘Well got level through Nicky Law with arguably the goal of his career. A ball in from the right was headed clear by Distin and as the ball dropped at the edge of the box, the nippy midfielder thundered a ferocious volley past the despairing Howard high into the top corner, to the delight of the home fans. It was a peach of an effort, worthy of the occasion.
A few moments later, Motherwell could have taken the lead but for the post. Jamie Murphy’s terrific cross-field pass found Tom Hateley who found space on the right flank. His weighted cross towards Higdon was volleyed goalwards by the big striker. With Howard at full stretch, his effort smacked the outside of the post and spun away. It would have been a goal of some quality as the Premiership stars looked rattled.
But they quickly got themselves together and Hollis had to make another another great save at the feet of Rodwell, before Cummins was on hand to prevent a certain goal from the Everton youngster. Jelavic and Naismith had created space in the box, and when the ball fell to Rodwell he should have found the net, but the scouser threw himself at the shot and fired it off to keep the game level.
It was Cummins’ last involvement as he was subbed along with Murphy and Higdon, for Fraser Kerr, Omar Daley and James McFadden. The former was greeted with thunderous applause and was only prevented from scoring on his return to Fir Park by a timely Distin block after Hammell’s fizzed ball in to the six yard box. He then played a neat ball in to Ojamaa who fed Law, but this time he couldn’t find the back of the net.
Hammell then took the applause of the large crowd when he came off to be replaced by Francis-Angol.
It had been a great game for his testimonial and he made his appreciation known as he came off the park to cheers all round.
As the game neared its end, Hateley had a free kick well beaten out by Howard form 25 yards, before Ramsden headed just over as Motherwell sought a winner. Rodwell then shot just wide, before Ojamaa shot twice at Howard with McFadden lurking.
It finished 1-1 and manager ‘McCall would have been delighted with the way his troops went about their task. Only Hamilton now wait before the Fir Parkers take their Champions League bow.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FULL TIME: Motherwell 1-1 Everton
88mins: 4512 fans here. 1,049 of those are Everton fans. Thanks to all as always.
85mins: Hateley has a chance from a 25 yard free kick. Howard does well to beat it away from goal.
78mins: Motherwell subs: Francis-Angol and Hetherington on for Lasley and the man of the moment, Stevie hammell
77mins: A hat-trick of reaction saves there from Hollis finally denying Naismith from close range.
74mins: Wonderful stuff there! Faddy into Ojamaa who rolls it around the corner to Law who in turn drags his shot agonisingly wide.
72mins: Bit of an uneventful second half so far. This strip looks brilliant though.
69mins: Everton subs: Naismith and Heitinga on for Fellaini and Distin.
62mins: McFadden, Kerr and Daley on for Cummins, Higdon, and Jamie Murphy.
60mins: A let off there. Cummins clearing off the line from Rodwell who had all the goal to aim for.
59mins: Faddy stripped and ready to come on….Fir Park prepares to erupt…
56mins: Higdon almost makes it 2-1! Hateley squares it to him just inside the box and his controlled shot slams back off the post
53mins: Oh my, what a strike that was from Law. Edge of the box, left footed half volley into the top corner. A stunner!
53mins: GOAL! It”s 1-1
49mins: Ojamaa turns in the box and gets a shot away. Not enough to really trouble Howard though.
45mins: Fellaini and Jelavic kick us back off.
HT: Steelmen are back out now. Hollis on for Randolph.
HT: Everton are back out. Junior, Gibson and Jelavic all on.
HT: An entertaining first half. We’ve had some good chances, just to find that killer touch. Certainly plenty to be encouraged by.
HALF TIME: Motherwell 0 – 1 Everton
36mins: Coleman jinks into the box and drills his shot just wide. Good chance there.
33mins: GOAL; It’s 1-0 to Everton. Duffy rises highest to nod home Anichebe’s cross.
31mins: Hands up who is just sitting watching Faddy warming up right now? I can see you, Cooper stand fans.
29mins: Faddy out warming up to a rousing reception. Cahill produces a great save from Randolph. Great feet and hands from big Daz.
25mins: Another chance there too. This time it’s Higgy with a looping header from a fantastic Hateley ball. just over.
23mins: Half way through the first half and not to tempt fate but we’ve edged this so far. Or is that biased?
22mins: Oh, well done Cummins! The scouser threw himself in front of Velios’ shot there which would have burst the net.
19mins: Murphy either hit the post or Howards face there with a low cross. Looked like the big man was troubled by it either way.
16mins: Indeed it was, but his free-kick is nodded over by the Everton wall.
15mins: A free-kick 20 yards out. Hammells range?
12mins: And seconds later Law finds himself 1-on-1 and opts to shoot from 20 yards. His shot stings Howards hands and the chance is gone.
12mins: Great chance! Brilliant link-up play from Ojamaa and Humphrey. Humphrey squares it to Higdon but the big man fires well over.
10mins: Everton almost opener the scoring. Osman comes from nowhere to bullet in a header. Well over, thankfully!
9mins: Similar chance again. Humphrey looks good up against Hibbert and cuts inside but his left footed shot is too tame to trouble Howard.
7mins: Bit of a half chance there for ‘Well. Humphrey with a cross the looks goal bound until Howard claws it out the air.
3mins: Early days but Everton are moving the ball wonderfully. ‘Well have hardly touched the ball.
1min: Law and Ojamaa get us underway.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
Everton manager David Moyes: