Motherwell lost 4-2 to a strong Newcastle United side as preparations for the new season continue.
The visitors made a blistering start when Haris Vuckic and Yoan Gouffran put the Toon in a commanding lead.
Iain Vigurs reduced the arrears with a blistering strike on 26 minutes but the Magpies restored their two-goal advantage before the break, Moussa Sissoko striking a shot under Hollis.
‘Well got themselves back into things when James McFadden chipped a cheeky penalty into the back of the net after Stuart Carswell had been fouled.
But Newcastle’s quality shone through and Sylvain Marveaux added a fourth from close range.
Having captured the signature of Stephen McManus earlier in the week, the former Celtic captain sat out this match with a small niggle, as did John Sutton who was nursing stitches after a head clash at Doncaster on Saturday.
Gunnar Nielsen was listed amongst the subs, along with “trialist” James McFadden. Iain Vigurs and Paul Lawson, the other two new signings, started in the midfield with Stuart Carswell and Keith Lasley. The backline looking the most familiar, made up of Simon Ramsden, Adam Cummins, Shaun Hutchinson and Stevie Hammell.
The Steelmen started the match with trialist striker Henri Anier up front and he was in the mix early on, turning Yanga-Mbiwa at the edge of the box before firing just over the bar. However, it didn’t take long for the Premiership side to take the lead when Haris Vuckic opened the scoring on eight minutes.
Gouffran seized on a loose ball by Shaun Hutchinson and advanced towards goal. Lee Hollis narrowed the angle to save, but Vuckcic was in hand to slot in to an empty net from sixteen yards.
Motherwell responded with a well delivered Iain Vigurs corner, but Adam Cummins’ header was saved at the front post by Rob Elliott. However, the Newcastle fans were the ones to applaud the next goal, as French international Gouffran extended the visitors lead on 14 minutes.
Vuckic turned provider this time, as he strode unchallenged from the midfield to play in the striker, who slotted through Hollis’ legs to double the advantage. At the stage it looked like Newcastle could score at will as the ‘Well defence failed to cope with the away side’s pace. Sammy Ameobi saw a great effort from distance crash back off the post as they began to turn the screw.
Estonian Anier almost halved the deficit for the Steelmen after bullying his way past Mike Williamson, but was thwarted by Elliot at his near post, just before Iain Vigurs got the Steelmen back in to it in style.
Steady build up play resulted in a ball lofted in to the box for Anier, who did enough to touch it back to the former Ross County man who smacked a volley low in to the bottom corner from the edge of the box. It was a stunning way to open his Motherwell account and lifted the home crowd.
As McCall’s side hunted a leveller, it was a cruel blow that saw them fall two goals behind once more. Moussa Sissoko expertly manoeuvred a shot from 25-yards that cruelly squirmed under Hollis and rolled agonisingly into the net.
The visitors led 3-1 at half time in what had been an action-packed opening period. The second-half started with a bang, mainly due to the introduction of ‘Faddy’.
Given a rapturous welcome when he ran out, he pulled his side back in to the game within minutes of the restart.
Stuart Carswell was tripped inside the box by Sissoko, with referee Wullie Collum pointing to the spot. McFadden placed the ball and with the coolness you would expect from the ‘Well legend, dinked the ball Pirlo style down the middle to make it 3-2.
The appearance of the 48 times capped maestro brought with it his goal and the trickery that Motherwell fans are hoping to see on a regular basis for the coming season. Along with the introduction of Zaine Francis-Angol, the second-half saw the Steelmen play with much more width, with the Antiguan linking up well with Anier in particular down the left flank.
Despite being more adventurous going forward, the Well fell further behind when Newcastle substitute Sylvain Marveaux made it 4-2, tapping in from close range after good work on the left by former St Mirren loanee Paul Dummet.
As both sides wrung more changes, the tempo of the game died, with chances few and far between for either side. Both Anier and Keith Lasley dragged efforts wide for the hosts, while Adam Campbell and Sammy Ameobi passed up chances to make the scoreline more emphatic.
The match finished 4-2 to Alan Pardew’s side, but the home side’s performance was a decent one, with some fine goals and decent performances from both the new and old heads.
Next up is a trip to the seaside of Morecambe on Saturday where Stephen McManus and John Sutton are likely to feature.
Motherwell: Hollis (Nielsen 45), Hammell, Ramsden, Hutchinson, Anier (Erwin 81), Lawson (Francis-Angol 45), Vigurs (Moore 74), Lasley (Murray 74), Cummins (Kerr 45), McHugh (McFadden 45), Carswell