Kris Jack at Dens Park
A late double from Michael Higdon saw Motherwell come from behind to claim a 2-1 victory over Dundee at Dens Park.
Colin Nish’s header had given the hosts a half time lead, but ‘Well battled back for the win thanks to Higdon’s fifth and sixth goals of the season. The win keeps The Steelmen at the summit of the SPL, as other results went their way.
With almost a full squad to pick from after a well earned rest over the International break, Stuart McCall fielded a mainly experienced side, with only youngsters Fraser Kerr and Adam Cummins keeping their places after some impressive defensive performances.
Simon Ramsden took a seat in the bench after returning to full fitness, as did Zaine Francis-Angol and Henrik Ojamaa, fresh from making international appearances for Antigua and Estonia respectively.
Barry Smith made one change to his starting XI from their first SPL win of the term over Hearts, with new signing Mark Kerr taking the place of Davide Grassi in the Dark Blues’ midfield. Recent addition Colin Nish started up front while former Burnley full-back Bryan Easton would start from the sidelines.
With a swirling wind amidst the sunshine, Motherwell started the game with the gusts behind them and, but for some heroic defending from the hosts, could have raced in to a two goal lead. Firstly, Fraser Kerr’s cross was headed back across goal by Michael Higdon, but Keith Lasley’s drive from ten yards was blocked out by the diving Gary Irvine.
Neil McGregor then did the same to prevent Steven Hammell bursting the net from 20 yards after a corner worked its way to the veteran left back.
Down the other end, Nish then brought a wonderful save from Darren Randolph with Dundee’s first attack. After working space in the box, his turn and shot looked bound for the bottom corner, until the recently capped Irish keeper dived to push it out.
Balls in to the box looked to be the route to goal and Shaun Hutchinson was unlucky to see his downward header bounce wide from Nicky Law’s corner.
Frustratingly, Nish showed him how it was done up the other end as the hosts went ahead on 20 minutes.
Ryan Conroy found John Baird on the left hand side and the former Airdrie man’s cross was headed into Randolph’s bottom right corner by Nish, who had stole a yard or two on Cummins.
Motherwell had to react but could not break down Barry Smith’s side’s resolute defending. As the half wore on, Hateley whipped three corners in quick succession, but none of them failed to trouble Douglas in the Dundee goal.
Just before the break, Higdon came close to levelling the game when he controlled Fraser Kerr’s throw-in on his chest, before crashing an effort of the base of the far post with Douglas beaten all ends up.
It was a frustrating end to an otherwise poor first forty-five from the Steelmen. A much better performance was required in the second half fro McCall’s side and just like in the first, the Fir Parker’s started the better.
Hateley dragged a speculative effort wide form 25 yards, before Nicky Law latched on to Hammell’s ball up the left channel to flash a cross along the six yard line, which was nicked off the toes of the on rushing Humphrey by McGregor.
Hateley then should have tested Douglas with a free kick when Higdon was fouled 25 yards out, but his set-piece cleared the goal with relative ease.
Colin Nish should have doubled his side’s lead on 65 minutes, when Baird’s lay off at the edge of the box allowed him a shot, but it drifted inches wide of Randolph’s left hand post.
Henrik Ojamaa and Omar Daley then entered the fray, replacing Jamie Murphy and Adam Cummins, and within minutes the Estonian helped ‘Well back in the game. After finding acres of space to run in to on the right hand side, Ojamaa squared for Michael Higdon who bundled the ball past Douglas to level. It was the Liverpudlian’s fifth goal in eight games and one which changed the complexion of the game.
Dundee had to come out more now they had been pegged back but try as they could they could not beat Randolph. Ryan Conroy hit a 30-yard free kick well wide, before Nish headed wide from an Irvine corner. Where Nish failed, Higdon prospered as he bagged the winner for the Steelmen.
Law and Lasley combined cleverly at the edge of the box, but could only win a corner. Hateley’s delivery was whipped right on to the head of Higdon who bulleted the ball home off the underside if the bar to steal a lead for the visitors. His second of the game pushed him further ahead in the SPL scoring charts, and proved the winner, to keep Motherwell atop the the league.
With five minutes of injury time added on, Stuart McCall’s side were made to wait for the final whistle, but when it came, the noisy travelling fans made known their appreciation, having seen their side come from a goal down to leave Dens Park with a 2-1 win.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Dens Park
FULL TIME: Dundee 1 – 2 Motherwell. ‘Well take the 3 points back to Lanarkshire thanks to Higdon’s double!
93mins: Nervy final minutes….
90mins: 5 minutes added on…..not sure why exactly!
89mins: Lasley booked for foul 25 yards out. Law possibly booked as well for complaining.
88mins: Dundee sub, Kerr off for Boyle
88mins: Late corner for ‘Well…….cleared at the front post.
84mins: Higdon with an absolute bullet of a header from a corner sends ‘Well in front!
78mins: Dundee sub: Stewart on for Baird.
Daley’s substitution sees Kerr being pushed into centre back, Hateley to right back and Law into centre mid
74mins: Ojamaa skips past his man and Higdon is there to bundle his cross home!! 1-1
71mins: Motherwell sub: Daley on for Cummins
63mins: Motherwell sub. Ojamaa on for Murphy,
63mins: Nish fires just past the post. Too close for comfort, that.
Going to be very difficult to break this defence down now. Sat in very deep and content to let Motherwell have possession.
….floats well over the bar.
62mins: Free-kick in Hateley territory….
55mins: So close there! Law managed to cut the ball back across the face of goal but it just eluded Humphrey and the ball was cleared.
53mins: Hateley tries his luck from 25 yards. His low shot trickles well past though.
51mins: Good opening spell of pressure from Motherwell. The wind just not aiding the final cross.
47mins: Cummins and Nish both down with head knocks. The scouser has walked it off, Nish looks like he’s struggling though.
45mins: Dundee get the action back underway,
HALF TIME: Dundee 1 -0 Motherwell. Nish’s header separates the teams after 45 minutes.
45mins: Higdon’s volley crashes off the post! Looked like it was going in but comes back out to safety.
43mins: Free-kick to Motherwell from a narrow angle…..Douglas saves Hateley’s shot.
41mins: Tame effort at goal from Higdon from 18 yards. Douglas gathers with ease.
37mins: 3 corners in a row for ‘Well as they seek the equaliser. Ref judges Cummins to have fouled his marker on the final one.
33mins: Baird is buzzing about everywhere and when he found himself on the right flank he tried a speculative shot. Safe hands from Daz.
29mins: Good chance. Humphrey got past Lockwood and sprinted into the box. There was nothing in the box and his cross was headed to safety.
25mins: Fantastic covering from Hutchinson prevents Conroy having an easy finish after he was found by Nish’s flick on.
19mins: GOAL; Nish heads Baird’s inch-perfect cross into the net.
14mins: Kerr’s threaded ball to Humphrey is cleared for a corner. Hutchinson heads the delivery harmlessly past the post.
12mins: Ball falls kindly to Toshney who angles a shot towards goal. Randolph does terrifically to scoop it out to safety.
11mins: Baird gets the better of Kerr but the big man gets back to deflect wide for a corner.
10mins: Second corner for Motherwell……Douglas punches clear.
His goal bound shot looked to have been blocked by a hand.
Corner cleared by Dundee. ‘Well follow it up though and when the ball finally broke to Hammell, there was a half-hearted shout for a pen as
5mins: Humphrey skips past Lockwood then see’s his cross deflected out for ‘Wells first corner of the game.
1min: Straight up the other end, indecision between Douglas and his defence almost allows in Murphy. Danger cleared though.
1min: First attack of the game. New boy Kerr slides in Conroy but he is ruled to be offside.
Teams switching halves. ‘Well shooting towards the away fans. Murphy and Lasley kick the game off. #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“The top-of-the-league stuff is irrelevant to me. It is about amassing points at this stage and getting the three points is the big thing.
“It’s nice for the players and their families to look and see they are top of the league but I think we all know where the title is going to end up come the end of the season so there is no excitement in that part of it.
“The determination and drive is just to keep getting the points. We got off to a good start last season and we’ve done that up until now this time around.”
“We said at half-time we still believed that we could go on and win the game if we just upped the tempo.
“I don’t want to make excuses but the grass was a little long and sticky. We have a few boys in the team that like to dribble with it so it didn’t really suit them.
“We were mindful of Dundee getting a great result at Tynecastle, going 1-0 up early on and sitting in and defending the lead.
“They defended well in the first half but I just felt that if our creative players could come to the fore then we could come back and win the game and thankfully we did that.”
Dundee manager Barry Smith:
“In the first half I thought we played very well and we were probably the more dominant team.
“It is another harsh lesson for us. If you lose concentration for a split second then you get punished at this level.
“We need to start learning quickly that we can’t afford to have lapses like this. We are six games into the season and still making the same mistakes.”