Andy Ross at Easter Road
Motherwell produced a sensational second-half comeback to defeat Hibernian 3-2 at Easter Road.
Substitute Robert McHugh converted Henrik Ojamaa’s cross two minutes from time to move Motherwell into second in the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.
Eoin Doyle headed the hosts ahead five minutes before half-time and doubled his tally nine minutes after the break when he raced onto Paul Cairney’s high ball and rocketed past Darren Randolph.
Jamie Murphy tapped in from close range to cut the hosts’ lead and he glanced home a leveller with 10 minutes remaining.
Hibs looked shell-shocked after losing a commanding lead and things got worse for Pat Fenlon’s side when substitute McHugh fired in a late winner.
James McPake was dismissed for a second yellow card during injury-time to complete a miserable afternoon for the home side.
The hosts made a bright start and only a well timed block from Tom Hateley denied Cairney from breaking the deadlock in the opening minute.
Doyle dragged his shot inches wide a minute later as the Motherwell goal continued to live a charmed life during the early exchanges.
Motherwell’s first chance of the match arrived after 12 minutes when Michael Higdon fired over after latching onto Shaun Hutchinson’s long ball.
Lee Griffiths forced Randolph into his first save of the match with a low effort from distance and Ben Williams was called into action at the other end when he had to gather Alan Maybury’s header.
Adam Cummins picked up the first booking of the match for hauling back Doyle and the hosts should have profited from the resulting free-kick as McPake rose unmarked to meet Griffiths’ delivery – but the Hibs captain was unable to find the target.
Motherwell were awarded a free-kick in a dangerous position after Maybury bundled over Murphy – but Hateley could not test Williams.
The hosts broke the deadlock five minutes before the break when Wotherspoon twisted away from Steven Hammell before providing an pin-point delivery for Doyle to nod home from close range.
Randolph parried Griffiths’ stinging drive as Pat Fenlon’s side threatened to extend their advantage before half-time.
It was Motherwell who began the second half on the front foot and Chris Humphrey should have done better after taking on Ryan McGivern inside the penalty box, but the winger could only manage a tame effort directly at Williams.
In throwing men forward Stuart McCall’s side left themselves liable on the counter-attack and they were punished on 54 minutes when Cairney’s through-ball created an opening for Doyle and the Irish striker finished in style for his second goal of the afternoon.
The Fir Park side continued to look for a way back into the match and they reduced the deficit when Humphrey drilled the ball low across the six-yard box and Murphy was left with a simple tap-in.
Gary Deegan made his return from injury when he replaced Griffiths with 20 minutes left and McCall showed his attacking intent as Cummins made way for McHugh.
Ojamaa flashed an effort just wide of the target and Higdon then tested Williams from 12 yards as the Fir Park side threatened to get back on terms.
Fenlon looked to tighten up his defence with the introduction of Ross Caldwell for Doyle, but the home side were unable to hold their lead as Higdon knocked on Hateley’s dangerous corner and Murphy glanced the ball home at the back post.
McHugh passed up a wonderful opportunity to complete a remarkable second half turnaround when he somehow failed to connect with Humphrey’s cutback.
The substitute made no mistake when presented with another opportunity with two minutes remaining as he turned Ojamaa’s cross across the helpless Williams and into the bottom corner.
McPake was dismissed with seconds remaining for a second yellow card following a tussle with Murphy – and the visitors held out to take all three points from a thrilling encounter.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Easter Road
91mins: RED CARD: McPake off for second yellow card.
91mins: ‘Well sitting in. Nervous.
90mins: FOUR minutes added on!
89mins: Ojamaa off for Francis-Angol
89mins: Composure regained. Ahem, McHugh gets enough on Ojamaa’s cross to diver past Williams.
89mins: Somebody just score!!! No idea who!! 3-2 to Motherwell
89mins: WOW WOW WOW WOW WOW
86mins: Hibs sub, Cairney off for Handling
84mins: WOAH. Should have been 3-2. On a plate for McHugh who a yard out can’t get enough on it. Either that or defender got a touch. Possibly even a penalty?
83mins: Lasley off for Ramsden. Looks hurt.
80mins: Murphy with his second, heading in Higdon’s knock-back! That has been coming. 2-2
78mins: Great spell of pressure here for ‘Well
76mins: Hibs sub, Doyle off for Caldwel
73mins: Encouraging! Ojamaa and Higdon go close with successive efforts.
72mins: ‘Well sub, Cummins off for McHugh.
70mins: Game sitting at 2-1 to Hibs, Hibee’s worthy of their lead but will be an interesting last 20 minutes.
69mins: Hibs sub: Deegan on for Griffiths.
63mins: Out of nowhere we’re back in it! Murphy slotting home Humphrey’s cross!!! 2-1
57mins: Ojamaa wins ‘Well a corner….but is too hard and the danger is gone.
54mins: Long ball over the top, out paces the ‘Well defence and coolly slots past Randolph.
54mins: GOAL: Doyle makes it 2-0 to Hibs.
49mins: Humphrey glides into the box but his left footed effort is tame and straight at Williams.
48mins: Ojamaa curls a cross in that is more of a shot. Easily gathered by Williams.
46mins: Doyle shoots straight at Randolph from outside the box.
46mins: Lasley and Ojamaa kick-off the second half.
HT: Hibernian 1 – 0 Motherwell
43mins: Griffiths stings the palms of Randolph from 18 yards as Hibs look to add a second before half-time.
40mins: GOAL: Doyle opens the scoring. Too easy for him as he heads home Wotherspoon’s cross from 8 yards.
38mins: Randolph does well to pluck the ball out of the air from McGivern’s cross.
35mins: Free-kick to Motherwell 25 yards out, much to the Hibs fans displeasure. Hateley flashes it just over the bar
31mins: Ojamaa grappled to the deck as he went to race clean through. McPake booked.
30mins: Quiet 10 minute spell there. Match becoming a bit more even.
20mins: Still goalless at Easter Road. Hibs the more dangerous side.
20mins: Griffiths can’t jink past Cummins so opts to shoot. Drags it just past from 20 yards.
18mins: Best chance of the game. Griffiths with a perfect in-swinging free-kick met by McPake in acres of space. Over the bar.
17mins: Almost an O.G. there from Hibs. Williams reacting sharply to collect a deflected header back to him.
16mins: Griffith’s 25 yard effort is ambitious to say the least. Forces a good save from Randolph though.
14mins: ‘Well coming into it a bit. Still to trouble Williams but starting to build up some good possession.
11mins: A chance…of sorts. Higdon with a speculative volley from outside the box. High, wide and not at all handsome.
9mins: Bit of danger again there as we approach the 10 minute mark. Wotherspoon works the ball into the box but Cummins heads clear.
8mins: Now it’s Hibs’ turn. Corner……..Randolph claws it clear.
5mins: And as I type….corner to Motherwell! Hateley’s deep delivery is headed clear by McGivern.
5mins: Early days but Hibs are on top. ‘Well still to have any meaningful possession.
2mins: Doyle looks a threat! Shoots just a fraction past Randolph’s right hand post from 18 yards, Unlucky.
1mins: Doyle gets to the byline but sees his cut-back cleared by Cummins.
1mins: Early pressure from Hibs. Griffiths just fails to control the ball at the vital point and it runs through harmlessly to Randolph.
1mins: Hibs kick off.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I’ll take that second-half performance any day of the week. We said at half-time we’ve got to go out and play and show what we can really do.
“I turned to Kenny Black at 2-0 and said we can still win this. I said to Chris Humphrey at half-time: we want you to get to the dead-ball line, it’s no good crossing from the 18-yard box – hit the dead-ball line.
“We did that and got the rewards for it.
“We’ll never get over being knocked out the cup the other night, but we can make up for it by having a good run in the league. I think that’s four away victories [in the league] on the trot.”
Hibernian manager Pat Fenlon:
“We’re just giving away too many sloppy goals. So maybe there’s one or two [players] coming back that are looking to play so we might have to change the team around a little bit.
“I’m disgusted. I think we thought we’d won the game when we scored the second goal.
“We never got hold of the ball after that and got deeper and deeper into our own half. You don’t get anything for getting results at half-time; it’s all about seeing games out.”
“We didn’t take them off together. We were getting over-run and we took one off to try and get hold of the ball in the middle of the park and we didn’t do that.”