Alan Burrows at Fir Park
Motherwell were held to a 1-1 draw by a dogged and determined Dundee at Fir Park this afternoon.
The hosts dominated for most of the ninety minutes, enjoying a massive 72% possession and 18 shots at goal, but were once again unable to turn their chances into goals.
In fact, it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play, Nicky Riley’s neat finish past Darren Randolph opening the scoring just before the half hour.
The Steelmen hit back before the interval, Henrik Ojamaa’s fierce low shot was turned away by Rab Douglas but Michael Higdon was on hand to slot home.
Motherwell huffed and puffed in the second half but were unable to break the Dundee resistance. The one time they did, and Higdon netted, ‘Well were thwarted by a flag from the assistant.
Both managers opted to keep the same starting eleven with ‘Well looking to bounce back from the 1-0 home defeat by Dundee Utd. Barry Smith’s men were looking to build on an excellent win over Hearts seven days ago.
It was a fairly lackluster opening twenty minutes with the only real moment of note coming when Steven Milne went down as he fired a shot from the edge of the Motherwell box but, despite the his protests to referee John Beaton, nothing was awarded.
‘Well started to take control of the match though and the visitors had Rab Douglas to thank after the veteran keeper turned away efforts from both Keith Lasley and Nicky Law
Jamie Murphy then curled a shot just past Douglas’s left-hand post, while Gary Irvine had to acrobatically clear a ‘Well header off his goal-line with an overhead kick after Simon Ramsden had got on the end of a Tom Hateley corner.
It was all Motherwell but it remained 0-0 despite another excellent Douglas save, this time turning a close-range Law strike over the bar.
Quite incredibly, Motherwell were made to pay for those missed chances when Dundee scored with one of their few ventures up the park. A neat passing move came to end with a sliding Tom Hateley block but Riley got the break of the ball, dribbled into the box and coolly slotted the ball into the far corner and in via the inside of the post.
The Steelmen looked to hit back though Michael Higdon could only flash a header wide after an excellent Hateley cross into the area. The former Reading right-back was at it again minutes later when another ball found Murphy inside the six-yard box but the former Scotland U21 hitman was unable to get a proper connection as he shinned it wide of Douglas’ post.
Seconds before the half-time interval, Motherwell eventually got the equaliser they deserved. Ojamaa’s fierce low shot across Douglas forced the former Celtic stopper to parry. Michael Higdon was there to tap in the rebound from six-yards for his eighth goal of the campaign.
The second half was almost a carbon-copy of the first, with Motherwell in control with Dundee content to sit deep and hit on the counter.
An over-hit Hateley free-kick from distance almost caught out Douglas but the keeper managed to get back on his line to tip over for a corner. Minutes later, defender Adam Cummins blasted a stinging drive but it flew harmlessly over and into the Cooper Stand.
Dundee were rarely forward but they almost got themselves in front again with eighteen minutes left on the clock but were thwarted by an excellent Randolph save, turning over Milne’s close-range acrobatic effort.
With four minutes to go, Motherwell thought they had finally got the illusive second when Higdon got on the end of a deflected Lasley drive but the goal was correctly flagged offside by assistant referee Alastair Mather.
Motherwell pushed and pushed but were let down by poor passes in key areas and were guilty of trying to force the ball. Substitute Bob McHugh was almost the hero again when he carved a great chance for himself in the dying seconds but with the curler into the far corner on, he got put it a yard or two wide of the post.
It was another frustrating afternoon of missed chances and opportunities for McCall’s men who will now travel north next weekend to take on Terry Butcher’s Inverness at the Tulloch Caledonian Stadium.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 1 Dundee. Another frustrating day at the office!
90mins: Awwww, so close from McHugh who fires just wide of the left hand post. That will probably be that!
90mins: 2 minutes added on. Few more required surely?
88mins: Irvine booked for a tackle from behind on Ojamaa.
86mins: Higdon has the ball in the net but is judged to have been offside! Interesting to see that one back.
85mins: Dundee sub: Baird comes on for Milne
82mins: Time running out for a winning goal.
79mins: Motherwell subs: Double change with Daley and McHugh coming on for Murphy and Humphrey.
75mins: Chance! Decent effort from Murphy from a narrow angle. Douglas beats clear.
72mins: Great reaction save from Randolph! Overhead kick from Milne was deflected by Ramsden. Randolph tips over.
70mins: Dundee sub, Riley off for Conroy
67mins: Lockwood yellow carded for wiping out Humphrey.
65mins: Ojamaa inches away from latching onto Higdon’s flick-on. Frustrating stuff for the Estonian who has put in a great shift.
63mins: Cummins see’s a chance for some glory from 35 yards. Decent effort, although off target.
59mins: Hateley almost fools Douglas with a 40 yard free-kick. Was probably a cross but almost crept in under the bar. Corner Motherwell.
56mins: Motherwell Sub: Hammell off for Francis-Angol
51mins: The Steelmen are camped in the Dundee half so far. Just not quite finding that final breakthrough.
46mins: Teams back out. Hopefully ‘Well can take some inspiration from finally getting that goal. Second half underway…
HT: Motherwell 1-1 Dundee. A timely equaliser from Higdon cancels out Riley’s opener.
45mins: It’s big Higgy! Ojamaa does terrifically to fire of a shot which Douglas is equal to. Can only palm out to the Scouser who fires home for his eighth of the season!
45mins: GOOOOAALLLL MOTHERWELL!
43mins: Lockwood lining up a free-kick from 30 yards….well saved by Randolph low to his left!
41mins: Superb chance for the equaliser! Hateley curls the ball in and it evades everyone but Murphy who throws a foot at it. Just past post
34mins: Ojamaa going in search of the equaliser. Does well to get past Lockwood but his shot is straight at Douglas.
28mins: Fair to say that was against the run of play.
28mins: GOAL – Dundee open the scoring! Riley with a fine left footed finish past Randolph. 0-1
26mins: Another shot on target for ‘Well. Law again from 20 yards, held by Douglas as he dived to his left.
19mins: Murphy goes close now. Trademark run and cut-in, his right footed shot drifts just past the post.
18mins: Great chance for Law! Ojamaa with the trickery, Higdon with the lay-off, Douglas the tip over the bar from his15 yard shot.
17mins: Lasley stings Douglas’ hands with a 20 yarder. He spills it but gathers at second attempt.
15mins: Milne and his Dundee team mates claiming for a penalty there! The striker hit the deck under Cummins after getting his shot off.
13mins: Humphrey wins ‘Well a corner…. Hammell swings it into the area but Cummins is ruled to have fouled his man. Free-kick Dundee.
10mins: Higgy shoots from 20 yards with his left foot. More of a pass to Douglas though as he gathers with ease.
6mins: Hateley with a Murphy style run into the box there! beat a few men but was well dispossessed as he went to cross.
2mins: First chance of the game goes to Dundee. Steven Milne with the effort from 20 yards. Tamely past the post.
1min: Law and Lasley kick the game off. #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“Our main problem at home at the moment is getting the first goal. We had opportunities to get the first goal, we didn’t and they put us on the back foot.
“Obviously, we were pleased to get our goal right on half-time. And, for all the ball we had second half, we created bits and bobs but not enough.
“Overall, we’ve had loads of the possession of the ball but we’ve not played as well as we have done in previous games and got beat. We could’ve ended up nicking it. We weren’t at our best.
“We’re always disappointed at home not to win the games and I felt as much as we had a lot of the ball and created chances, you’ve got to give credit to Dundee. They worked ever so hard.
“It’s just not going for us at the moment. There’s nothing individual you can put your finger on, just the fact that other teams are all very evenly matched and we’ve no divine right as Motherwell to go our and expect to win games. We’ve got to work hard and take the chances when they come along.”
Dundee manager Barry Smith:
“I’m delighted to come to Fir Park and take a point. If they keep putting in performances like we have the past two weeks then we’ll give ourselves every chance of getting ourselves up the league.”
“We got the goal. The one disappointing thing is not seeing that through but credit to the players, they came out and gave a great performance in the second half, where they’ve fought for everything and I think we thoroughly deserved a point.
“I’m pleased with the overall performance. It’s [about] trying to breed confidence with them and recognising that they can compete at this level.”