Andy Ross at Tannadice
Motherwell made it three away wins on the bounce with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Dundee United at Tannadice.
Michael Higdon capitalised on hesitancy amongst the home defence to fire ‘Well ahead after seven minutes.
A wonderful 20-yard strike from Chris Humphrey doubled the Fir Park side’s advantage three minutes later, however, Jon Daly netted his fifth goal of the season to reduce the deficit before half-time.
The Steelmen spent much of the second half on the back-foot but showed fantastic determination to hold out for a win that moves them to within a point of top-spot in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Stuart McCall’s side threatened in the opening minute as Shaun Hutchinson headed wide of the target from Tom Hateley’s fizzing corner.
The hosts were handed a goal scoring chance of their own after Hutchinson bundled over Russell 20 yards from goal, however Barry Douglas could only direct a tame free-kick directly at Darren Randolph.
Motherwell opened the scoring after seven minutes when Hateley’s delivery evaded all in Tangerine and allowed Higdon to coolly slot the ball past Radoslaw Cierzniak.
Only three minutes later the visitors doubled their advantage in stunning style, Ojamaa did well to find Humphrey and the Jamaican international burst forward before unleashing a stunning right-footed effort that found the top corner.
It was clear the visitors were in the mood and Hateley fired over the top before Ojamma’s low drive nestled in the side-netting.
Randolph was forced to tip Gavin Gunning’s powerful free-kick over the crossbar as the home side attempted to find a way back into the match.
Motherwell continued to demonstrate a threat on the counter-attack and only a crucial intervention from Douglas prevented Higdon profiting from Murphy’s dangerous cut-back.
Referee Bobby Madden waved play-on just before the half-hour mark when Hateley appeared to foul Stuart Armstrong just inside the area – the home support were furious, but they did not have to wait long for their side to find a way back into the match.
Hutchinson was caught out by Sean Dillion’s long ball and Daly controlled the ball before slamming the ball into the net.
An excellent piece of goalkeeping from Cierzniak denied Higdon from doubling his tally four minutes before the interval.
United began the second half in a positive fashion and Randolph had to be alert to divert John Rankin’s shot over the top.
The Motherwell goal continued to live a charmed life and Daly failed to make contact with Russell’s dangerous cross before Skacel somehow failed to find the target when the ball fell to him 10 yards from goal.
Daly’s looping shot found the top of Randolph’s goal, before Rankin made way for Michael Gardyne with 18 minutes remaining.
Cierzniak produced another excellent finger-tip save to keep out Murphy’s low shot, in what was Motherwell’s first attempt of the second half.
McCall looked to bolster his midfield when he introduced Stuart Carswell in place of Ojamaa.
Houston was forced into a second change five minutes from time when Willo Flood limped off to be replaced with Richie Ryan.
The home supporters thought their side had ensured at least a share of the spoils when Skacel bundled home after Daly’s cut-back, however he was denied by the offside flag.
Two minutes of added time brought further pressure from the home side, but they were unable to breakthrough the stubborn Motherwell rearguard.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Tannadice
93mins: FULL TIME!
90mins: Hiding behind a chair in the gantry too scared to watch!
89mins: Randolph to the rescue as he palms Gardyne’s volley to safety!
86mins: United score!! But it’s offside. Phew!
83mins: Dundee United sub: Ryan on for Flood.
79mins: Motherwell sub: Carswell on for Ojamaa
78mins: Almost the 3rd there as Murphy shoots toward the bottom corner. Cierzniak does well to tip wide.
76mins: Biggest sigh of relief all night as Russell volleys out the stadium. Need to regroup and dig in here.
71mins: United sub: Gardyne on for Rankin.
62mins: Backs to the wall stuff here! Soon won’t be able to type as my fingers will have been chewed off.
57mins: Should have been the equaliser! Skacel somehow blasts over from close range.
56mins: Russell with a cross that may be a shot…..flashes just past the post!
55mins: Long range shooting the order of the day in this half! Skacel next to try his luck but Randolph deals with his effort well.
54mins: First chance for ‘Well of the half. Murphy with an effort from 20 yards, parried out by Cierzniak low to his right.
51mins: All Uniited so far. Randolph has to look sharp to tip Rankin’s shot over the bar.
46mins: Teams back out and second half underway.
HALF TIME: Dundee Utd 1 -2 Motherwell
45mins: 1 minute added on.
41mins: Higdon unleashes a great effort from 30 yards which Cierzniak does well to tip over.
38mins: Hutchinson rightly booked for a high tackle on Skacel.
36mins: GOAL- Daly pulls one back for United.
31mins: Rankin from distance fails to trouble Randolph.
29mins: Skacel still aligning his sights as he can only blast over with his effort from 20 yards,
28mins: Strong claim for a penalty there from United after Armstrong looked to have been hauled down by Hateley!
23mins: Russell latches onto a long ball over the top. His volley is just wide of Randolph’s post.
19mins: Free-kick to ‘Well in line with the 6 yard box. Cierzniak beats the delivery away from Murphy’s feet.
15mins: Law judged to have handled the ball just outside the box. Gunning’s free-kick is tipped over.
14mins: Ojamaa hits the sidenetting after dispossessing Douglas. Unlucky.
12mins: After seeing Humphrey rasp one into the top corner, Hateley tries his luck from similar range. Not far past!
10mins: An absolute worldy from Humphrey puts ‘Well 2 up! Unbelievable finish from 25 yards!
WHAT A GOOAALLL!!!
9mins: Neat play between Ranking and Skacel allows the Czech space in the box to get a header off. Randolph gathers easily.
7mins: Ball was delivered into the box and missed by Murphy. This fooled everyone apart from Higdon who coolly lifted over Cierzniak!
GOOOAALLL! Michael Higdon opens the scoring!
5mins: Free-kick to United after Francis-Angol clatters Russell from behind. 25 yards out…Douglas curls straight to Randolph.
1min: Cummins heads Hateley’s delivery wide.
1min: Corner to Motherwell. Good early pressure from The Steelmen.
1mins: Kick-off to United – ‘Well switch it around and will shoot towards the “Shed” first-half.
Here come the teams! Seems like a decent ‘Well support from my position.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“It’s nice to go away, score lots of goals and play great football but sometimes it’s about digging in.
“We had our backs to the wall at times. If I’m honest, United probably deserved a draw out of it.”
“There’s lots of different ways to win a game. It’s great to play open, attractive, entertaining football and go forward at every opportunity but you’ve got to give credit to them – they pushed us back.
“It was hard fought and we needed to dig in second half. We’ve got a lot of young lads in the back four and they did it well.
“To have a clean sheet for the second half – we’re absolutely delighted with that. I think we’ve won three on the bounce now away from home and it’s testament to the character.”
Dundee Utd manager Peter Houston:
“That’s five games on the trot we’ve gone behind. Now it’s beyond a joke. I don’t know if it’s a mental thing. I’m asking them questions and I’m not getting many answers.”
“It shouldn’t be like that and for the last four of five games it’s been like that. It would be hard for me to turn round and say they weren’t working hard enough or they weren’t chasing.
“They’re doing that, but unfortunately we’re giving ourselves mountains to climb.
“For 65 minutes we absolutely chased the game and it’s crisis management in the side – we’ve got to just battle on and try to get people forward.
“Even though I thought we deserved something from the game, we got nothing.”