Andy Ross at New Douglas Park
Bob McHugh struck twice as Motherwell defeated their Lanarkshire rivals Hamilton 3-0 at New Douglas Park.
Tom Hateley cooly converted a penalty with eight minutes remaining to complete an assured Motherwell display that will provide a big confidence boost with their Champions League qualifying clash with Panathanikos just a week away.
Making his first appearance of pre-season after returning from injury, McHugh began the game sharply, dragging a shot wide after three minutes before coming close after capitalising on an error by Accies keeper Kevin Cuthbert, following a neat through-ball from Daley.
It was to be third time lucky for the 21-year-old striker when he latched onto Michael Higdon’s knockdown on eight minutes and slammed home from the edge of the box.
It was an positive opening from the Steelmen and Higdon came close to doubling their advantage – stinging the palms of Cuthbert with a drive from a narrow angle.
McHugh passed up a glorious opportunity to add to his tally after 23 minutes when he slid-in to meet Higdon’s low cross, but his effort was well wide of the target with the goal gaping.
Ali Crawford fired over the bar as Accies registered their first shot on Darren Randolph’s goal and the Republic of Ireland stopper was forced into action when he turned Gary Fraser’s excellent strike over the bar.
Accies seemed to be growing in confidence and Randolph had to be alert to keep out Jon McShane’s back-post volley on 38 minutes.
Despite enjoying their best spell of the match Accies found themselves 2-0 down with two minutes of the half remaining.
Higdon combined with Nicky Law who cut the ball back for McHugh to slot home his second goal of the match.
Randolph made a wonderful stop from McShane’s 30-yard effort on the stroke of half-time to ensure Motherwell took their two goal advantage into the break.
After coming through their first 45 minutes of pre-season action, McCall replaced Hutchinson and McHugh with Ewan Murray and Lee Erwin at half-time.
The second half began slowly and it took 12 minutes for the first clear-cut chance, Grant Gillespie burst forward and unleashed a fizzing effort which Randolph did superbly well to turn past the post.
Craig Moore replaced Nicky Law on the hour mark as McCall took the opportunity to rest some legs.
It was the hosts who continued to look the more dangerous though and Andrew Ryan should have done better after rising to meet a pin-point delivery.
Adam Ashgar became the fourth Well sub to be introduced with 20 minutes remaining and Adam Cummins made way for Fraser Kerr shortly afterwards.
Cuthbert was called into action for the first time in the second half when he blocked Daley’s strike with his feet, but it was Randolph at the other who continued to shine.
Ryan found Darian MacKinnon inside the area and the striker unleashed a strike that looked certain to be heading goal-bound before Randolph somehow diverted the shot over the bar.
With eight minutes remaining, referee John Beaton awarded Motherwell a penalty when Jack McCue was adjudged to have pulled back Jack Leitch.
Tom Hateley stepped up and cooly converted to put the game well out of the reach of the hosts.
Cuthbert blocked at the feet of Hetherington in the final minute as Motherwell continued to look dangerous.
It was to be the final action of the match and McCall will now look to give playing opportunities to the first-teamers absent from his starting line-up tonight when they face Partick Thistle in a bounce match tomorrow afternoon.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
90mins: Full time: Hamilton 0 – 3 Motherwell
87mins: 3 minutes to go. A thoroughly convincing performance from the Steelmen against a young Accies side. Hoping for four?
84mins: Bit of Rocky Balboa there from Randolph. Came out swinging and punching twice to clear the ball.
82mins: Hamilton 0 – 3 Motherwell. A dubious penalty decision but well slotted home by Tom.
82mins: Tom Hateley steps up……..GOAL!!! Slotted home to the bottom left!
79mins: Woah, that is yet ANOTHER fantastic save from Randolph! Had goal written all over it until Daz flies through the air and palms over.
78mins: Another sub. Lasley comes off fo Leitch. First look at him for many of you ‘Well fans.
77mins: Best chance of the second half! Cuthbert denies Daley with his feet from close range.
76mins: Motherwell sub: Kerr comes on for Cummins.
73mins: Into the last 17 minutes then. It’s all gone a bit flat, fans in great voice though.
71mins: Anyone who travelled to watch the 19’s last season at Bathgate will feel an air of familiarty about this side now.
70mins: Motherwell sub – Asghar on for Higdon.
61mins: Motherwell sub – Moore on for Law. Slots into right midfield.
57mins: Randolph in top form tonight. Yet another great save to beat a long range left footed drive away from goal.
51mins: 2 Hamilton Subs: Johnstone and Trialist on for Longridge and Martin
49mins: Slow start to the second half. Only thing worth noting was a corner that came to nothing from ‘Well.
HT: Teams are back out. Murray on for Hutchinson and Erwin on for McHugh.
45mins: Great save from Randolph. McShane’s 30 yard effort is sailing in until he tips magnificently round the post.
43mins: That was lovely! Higdon shields the ball from the defender and slots in Law. He jinks in and out, eventually squaring to McHugh who scores.
43mins: GOAL 2-0 Motherwell!
36mins: Fraser with a great strike there. Goal bound? Possibly. Randolph takes no chances and acrobatically tips over.
32mins: Motherwell still on top at a now overcast and gloomy looking New Douglas park
30mins: Omar Daley cuts inside after a mazy run and shapes up to shoot. Fires just over.
26mins: Half chance for Hamilton. Crawford with a 25 yard effort that was never going to trouble Randolph.
23mins: McHugh blazes well over after sliding to meet Higdon’s low cross.
20mins: Early sub for Accies. Gillespie on for Finnie.
19mins: Hetherington floats it in at the back post to Higdon but he is penalised for climbing all over the defender.
19mins: Free-kick won in a dangerous position by McHugh.
15mins: Motherwell looking very dangerous going forward. Some lovely 1 touch football gives Higdon a chance. Straight at the keeper though.
12mins: Higdon goes close there! The big man had acres of space only the angle was very narrow. Does well to draw a save from Cuthbert.
A tidy finish from Bob there after he latched on to Higdon’s flick-on.
8mins: GOAL!- It’s 1-0 to Motherwell! Bob McHugh the scorer.
He does well to recover and make the save though.
5mins: First good chance of the game. Cuthbert takes ball at his feet allowing McHugh to disposes him.
2mins: Positive start from Motherwell. Had all the possession so far and McHugh has just went close with a long range drive.
1mins: McHugh and Omar kick us off. Lovely night here for the football. Mon the ‘Well!
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“Our best player was Darren Randolph who has had 5 or 6 great saves.
“The way Hamilton play with one up top and they flood the midfield and pass the ball well, we went with a little diamond and we had a lot of chances in the first half.
“We had some good opportunities but second half we were not at the races and we’re disappointed with a lot of things. The positives for me are Hutchy to get 45 minutes and Bob to get his two goals.”
Hamilton manager Billy Reid: