Kris Jack at Tannadice
Motherwell grabbed the first three points of the post split SPL with a terrific 3-1 win over Dundee United at Tannadice.
Michael Higdon helped himself to a spectacular double, breaking Wullie Pettigrew’s post-war record for most top-league goals in a single season in the process.
Higdon’s brace sandwiched a fine solo effort from Henrik Ojamaa, which had the Steelmen 2-0 up after just seven minutes. Jon Daly prodded home a consolation for the hosts with twenty minutes left, but the visitors saw the win out, to record a fantastic away win.
Stevie Hammell used the two week break to recover from the injury which had kept him out of the 2-2 draw with St Mirren, while Jackie McNamara replaced Mark Millar and Keith Watson with Bryan McLean and Stuart Armstrong, after Sunday’s Scottish Cup semi final defeat to Celtic.
Just like the previous visit to Tannadice, it was Motherwell who set the pace for the game, finding themselves a goal ahead after just two minutes.
James McFadden turned his marker on the left hand side to lay the ball off to Michael Higdon thirty yards from goal. As space opened up in front of the striker, he swung his right boot at the bobbling ball, swerving it out past the reach of Cierzniak and in off the upright. It was arguably his best goal in Claret and Amber, and one, which the small travelling of Well fans loudly showed their appreciation for.
Chris Humphrey, who had scored a fine goal from distance on Motherwell’s last visit to Tannadice, almost scored again within moments of the restart, but after cutting in from the right, his shot was beaten out by Cierzniak.
It was to get better for McCall’s side just five minutes later though as Henrik Ojamaa scored just his third goal of the season. Winning a flick on from Higdon, the Estonian bustled his way right through the United defence, eventually slotting the ball beyond the home goalie to double Well’s advantage.
It could have been three just a few moments after as McFadden dazzled the Terrors defence before driving just wide from the edge of the box. Cierzniak then spilled a free kick form McFadden from a wide position, before Willo Flood cleared the danger for the hosts.
Having lost two very early goals, United came back in to the game, but could not find a way past an inspired Darren Randolph in the middle of the ‘Well goal. He first saved excellently with his chest from Ryan Gauld’s front post flick at Gary Mackay-Steven’s centre from the bye line, before denying Jon Daly in similar circumstances, this time from Stuart Armstrong’s ball in. The third save was the best of the lot, after Mackay-Steven twisted and turned to get space in the box, only to see his effort beaten out by a strong left hand from eight yards.
United finished the half stronger, but The Steelmen survived and kept their two goal lead going in to the break. The second-half began at a much slower tempo than the first, but within ten minutes, Motherwell found the goal to clinch the victory.
A great passing move from left to right ended when Lasley knocked the ball down to Chris Humphrey. The Jamaican evaded Barry Douglas’ challenge to tee up Higdon, who pivoted at the edge of the box before ramming the ball home from 18 yards in off the far post. It was another sweet strike from the in form forward and was the goal that put him in the annuls of ‘Well’s history, as it broke the goalscoring record, held by Wullie Pettigrew since 1975.
With a three-goal cushion, Motherwell allowed their hosts in to the game more and they were unlucky not to pull a goal back when Willo Flood’s well-struck free kick from 25 yards hit the wrong side of Randolph’s right hand post and bounced away for a goal kick.
>They did however manage to grab a consolation on 69 minutes, when Jon Daly was allowed to turn in the box to poke the ball through Randolph’s legs from 10 yards, reducing the deficit to just two goals.
However, with twenty minutes left, the introduction of three substitutes could not swing the game in their favour, with Flood blasting a volley well over the bar from a Daly knockdown a disappointing end to a decent move. Randolph then made the save of the game, when he dived low to his left hand post to palm away a low driven shot from Mackay-Steven who had jinked in from the right hand side.
The game swung from end to end in the final minutes, but neither side could keep composure in front of goal to add to the scoring.
Flurries of bookings were dished out for petulance for Ramsden, Ojamaa and Hammell for Motherwell, while Brian McLean picked up a yellow for the hosts, as the game ran out.
The 3-1 win cements Motherwell second spot, thrusting them six points clear of Inverness at the start of the weekend.
While the game will be remembered for the fine goals scored, Shaun Hutchinson and Simon Ramsden had an outstanding game at the back, helping Darren Randolph keep the home forwards at bay for the majority of the match.
[tab:As it happened]
Alan Burrows at Tannadice
FT: Dundee Utd 1 – 3 Motherwell (Higdon x2 and Ojamaa). The title race is still on! 😉 :-p
90mins: Ojamaa booked for dancing over the ball, it would seem? Not got a clue why that was, he wasn’t stopping anything? Strange.
90mins: There will three minutes of time added on here at Tannadice
85mins: Boulding on to replace GMS for Utd. Fraser Kerr comes on to replace Chris Humphrey…
84mins: Ex Well defender Brian McLean booked for mouthing at the referee…
82mins: Stevie Hammell booked for blocking. At the same time, Carswell comes on for James McFadden…
81mins: Sub for Utd – Gardyne on for Gauld.
81mins: Another brilliant save from Randolph – turning it round the post down to his left from Armstrong. Corner Utd!
78mins: Motherwell have a great chance 4 vs 2 – the move eventually dies out though. Frustrating stuff…
70mins: Ramsden booked – not too sure what for. Must have said something to the official John Beaton?
70mins: United now on top – goals has them really pushing. I am sure you ‘Well fans expected nothing less, eh? Always the hard way lol…
Attendance at Tannadice: 5634
69mins: Fearsome strike from Armstrong forces Randolph into another good block… United tails are up.
68mins: United make their first sub – Dow comes on for Rankin…
68mins: Stuart McCall will be annoyed at the manner of that goal. Sloppy defending to be honest gives Utd a way back into the match.
68mins: Goal Dundee Utd. John Daly gets his usual goal against Motherwell. I wonder what his record is against ‘Well?
64mins: United almost in but good defending from Stevie Hammell saves the danger. Home side by no means out of this yet….
61mins: Fantastic strike from Flood clips the outside of the post and drops wide. What a goal that would’ve been…
61mins: United have a free-kick in a great area. Foul on Gauld… Few players standing over it…
56mins: Offt – great save by United GK. Law with the shot – ball breaks loose but United eventually get it clear.
56mins: Daly has a half chance to bring United back into things but he heads over with Hutchinson making it difficult.
54mins: Great move it was from ‘Well, lovely turn from the big man and a composed finish into the far corner. #legend
54mins: Amazing stuff from record-breaker Michael Higdon. His 24 league goals is Motherwell’s best return post-war. Awesome!
53mins: Offffttt! Ojamaa goes close to a stunner but his stinging effort from the edge of the box goes just over. So close…
53mins: Higdon almost in on the keeper after taking a great touch but United get back to hook clear…
52mins: Low shot from John Rankin flys through a ruck of bodies but drops a good few yards wide of the post….
50mins: Hateley does well top block GMS at the expense of a corner. Looked like a goal-kick from here… Might be wrong?
47mins: Armstrong curls a nice shot at goal but Randolph is comofrtable to watch it wide, just about….
46mins: Motherwell kick-off!
Teams are back out… Motherwell will shoot from left to right – towads the Eddie T Stand here at Tannadice. #COYW
Such an even half there – Both teams playing some lovely football. Reckon there’s more goals yet… Stay tuned. #COYW
HT: Just watching that Higgy goal again… What a strike to equal the record. 23 league goals, 24 in total. Love it…
Half-time: Dundee Utd 0 – 2 Motherwell (Higdon and Ojamaa)
43mins: United pushing and pushing here as we approach half-time….
41mins: All United’s attacks coming down their left. Tom doing well to try and stem the flow but needs help from MF too…
40mins: Another magnificent save from Randolph. Mackay-Steven’s shot hits Hateley on its way to goal but DR turns it away. Smashing!
39mins: Good ‘Well counter down the left, Faddy eventually squares it across goal but is haulted by the assistant’s flag
35mins: Rankin surges forward, the spaces opens up in front of him, but he blasts it high into the Eddie Thompson stand from 30 yards out.
33mins: More brilliant tracking back from Motherwell – this time from Law. Does enough to put off Mackay-Steven who fires over.
30mins: Brilliant tracking back from Ojamaa – deep into his own half to win a throw-in. United fans not happy – they thought it was theirs.
29mins: Another long-range effort from Gauld takes a deflect and bounces harmlessly back to Randolph.
27mins: Brilliant block again from Randolph. Gauld gets in behind but he is quickly closed down by the big Irish stopper. Super stuff!
26mins: United have a shot from distance – Armstrong takes fire but his effort cannons off a United backside and zooms five yards wide.
23mins: Still 2-0 Motherwell here at Tannadice – Higdon and Ojamaa the scorers. Both teams creating in a very open match.
22mins: Referee not popular in the home stands after giving a foul on Randolph by Daly. Looked a wee bit harsh, have to say. #playthegame
19mins: It’s fantastic end-to-end stuff here at Tannadice. Always a Friday-night thriller… Certain there are more goals in this match…
18mins: Good move from United down the left flank… Near post ball finds Daly but Randolph blocks brilliantly from point-blank range.
17mins: United mount a quick counter-attack. Mackay-Steven gets to the touchline and cuts it back but Gauld prods it wide. Goal kick…
15mins: The free-kick is dealt with, just, by the United keeper. Ball bounces back out into the danger area but Flood clears up for Utd.
14mins: Henrik wins a free-kick in a good area for the Fir Parkers. Looked a little harsh though, clash of legs, perhaps?
11mins: Another Motherwell attack… Humps down the right flank. His cross finds Faddy at the back post but the move breaks down.
10mins: Offftttt! Faddy almost makes it 3-0. Great run from deep, United defence backs off but he drags the shot just wide.
9mins: Wee shout for a penalty there as Mackay-Steven goes down in the box. Looked like Hateley got the ball though. Goal kick is the result
8mins: With all the hair chat – Ojamaa must be like Samson in reverse. So long without a goal, trims the barnet, boom!
7mins: 2-0 for the Steelmen – astonishing scenes here. Ojamaa nips through the United defence and prods under the keeper.
7mins: GOOOOOOALLLLLLL!! Henrik!
6mins: Ojamaa working so hard for the Steelmen up top. Glad to see he has returned to the shaved barnet look – proper CF 🙂
5mins: From the resulting corner, the ball eventually lands at the feet of Keith Lasley but his strike sails into the Shed.
5mins: Offft, Motherwell go close again. Law’s ball out wide on the right for Humphrey. Jamaican winger cuts in but his shot is well saved.
4mins: United force their first attack and go close through Gauld. Youngster plays a one-two but dinks it just over…
2mins: That goal means Higdon equals Willie Pettigrew’s post-war league record of 23 strikes in one season. Amazing from the big man!
2mins: Incredible stuff from big Higgy. Picks up the ball from thirty yards and leathers it in off the inside of the stantion. Yassss!!
1min: Didn’t take long for the classic “Sunday League Shout” of “Get the baw on the deck…” 🙂
1min: Dundee United get the game going… #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I’m delighted with the group of players. They started the game really well and scored two terrific goals and then we had to defend hard as they pressed us and had chances. We knew before the game they had players who would trouble us so they were going to get chances.
“They’ve only lost twice since Jackie took over, which showed dhow difficult it would be. You can’t expect to come away from home and hot be under the kosh at times but I thought some of our forward play was terrific.
“Towards the end we were hanging on a bit but always looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
“It was a really good game of football and we’ve been involved in a lot of them this season. All in all it was a great nights work.”
Dundee Utd manager Jackie McNamara:
“The first one was a good strike and you can’t take anything away from that but we maybe could have stopped the shot.
“The second one was disappointing, from a throw-in, and he ran right through. It wasn’t good defending.
“We battled hard and had a few chances where their keeper has done well.
“I knew the next goal would be crucial and I’m disappointed it wasn’t us that got it.”