Phil McGhee at Fir Park
A depleted Motherwell slumped to their heaviest defeat of the season as Dundee United scored four at Fir Park.
Stuart McCall commended the Tannadice side by saying it was the best away performance he had seen from any team at Fir Park in his time as manager – it was a punishing afternoon for the Motherwell players and fans.
Although it would be easy to use the absence of the ever present defensive trio of Simon Ramsden, Stevie Hammell and Shaun Hutchison missing through injuries and suspension, undoubtedly United took to the field with Motherwell’s untried back four in mind.
And it was a testing afternoon for them. Although after a couple of early threat from the visitors, ‘Well fans were given some hope when inviting crosses from Iain Vigurs and Lionel Ainsworth just eluded John Sutton in front of goal.
But it all started going wrong after fourteen minutes when Adam Cummins, short of first team match practice, thumped into the back of Ryan Gauld. And while the United youngster looked dazed, he was still alert enough to volley Gunnar Nielsen’s punched clearance home from the edge of the box.
Two minutes later United were two up after Zaine Francis-Angol, covering at left back, lost possession allowing Gauld to cross and Paul Paton to head home from inside a packed penalty box.
The Fir Park goal had a few narrow escapes before half-time but John Sutton almost pulled one back when his angled drive was touched beyond his post by Radoslaw Cierzniak.
Encouraged by the introduction of James McFadden at half time, there was some faint hope that Motherwell might get back into the game but, in truth, the second half was a case of solid defending by Stephen McManus and some outstanding saves from Nielsen to keep the score respectable.
Gauld grabbed his second and United’s third while Stuart Carswell was off and Euan Murray waited to take his place. But the Tannadice side were not content and Nielsen produced great stops to deny Graham and then Goodwillie making the scoreline even worse.
Substitute Craig Moore came close to giving ‘Well fans some consolation with a dipping volley which wasn’t far off the target.
But it was Andy Robertson who rounded off the scoring in injury time, lashing the ball high past a helpless Nielsen to end a terrific afternoon for the fans from Dundee but a miserable one for the home fans.
As a disappointed McCall pointed out the ‘Well players now have two weeks to lick their wounds and prepare for the visit to Kilmarnock.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 0 – 4 Dundee Utd
90mins: GOAL! Robertson makes it a miserable day for ‘Well with goal number four.
90mins: Three minutes left to play here at Fir Park. It is sadly going to be our first home league defeat in three months 🙁
87mins: Great save from Nielsen to deny Goodwillie low to his right!
86mins: ‘Well counter and Moore see’s his volley drift wide of the right hand post
85mins: Graham has a tame effort straight at Nielsen from distance
82mins: Moore gets on the end of Ainsworth’s cross but heads wide.
79mins: Dundee Utd sub, Ciftci off for Gomis
71mins: Dundee Utd sub: Armstrong off for Goodwillie
66mins: Utd sub as well, Graham on for Gauld
66mins: Motherwell sub: Anier off for Moore
64mins: Euan Murray makes his senior debut, introduced for the injured Stuart Carswell.
63mins: GOAL! Gauld makes it 3-0
58mins: MacKay-Steven hits the bar with a cross from the right. No sign of any sort of revival from ‘Well
56mins: Great save from Nielsen to tip the ball onto the bar from Gauld’s effort which looped up off Kerr
49mins: Ball falls nicely to Lasley about 25 yards out. He takes it on the volley but it’s just past
46mins: Utd win a corner which falls to Paton. He shoots just wide of the post
46mins: Second half underway
HT: Half-time sub for ‘Well, McFadden on for Cummins
HT: Motherwell 0 – 2 Dundee Utd
45mins: Ciftci fires just past with a good effort from 28 yards
36mins: Sutton flashes a shot across the face of goal. Unlucky.
33mins: Robertson has the ball in the net but thankfully the linesman’s flag is up!!
25mins: ‘Well searching for a way back into this. Vigurs slides in Sutton who gets tackled as he’s about to pull the trigger. Corner ‘Well
21mins: Utd running us ragged at the moment. Ciftci drags his shot just wide from 12 yards on the angle
18mins: GOAL! Utd go 2 up after Paton heads home from 10 yards
15mins: GOAL! From the free kick Nielsen punches clear but Gauld was on hand to stick it in the net
14mins: Cummins booked for barging into Gauld
12mins: Corner to ‘Well….McManus heads just over!
10mins: Armstrong has a left footed effort from 25 yards which Cummins took the sting out of. Nielsen prevents the corner
6mins: Vigurs beats Wison to the ball and whips it across goal for Sutton. The Englishman was just inches away from making contact
4mins: Decent chance for Utd as Ciftci gets in the box. His cut back is gathered by Nielsen though
1min: Carswell and Lasley kick the game off #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I’ve had almost three years in the job here and that’s far and away the best away performance that has been here.
“Days like this can happen. We’ll lick our wounds; we’ll take it on the chin. Obviously, you don’t want to get beat at home and you don’t want to get beat by that scoreline.
“We wanted to be better. You’ve got to just hold your hands up, take your hats off and say we were beaten by an outstanding young side, who were playing at the top of their game.
“We’ll put a line through it, you can’t look too deeply into that. They’ve got a really good, talented squad we’ve got to regroup. It’s a sore one but we’ll certainly be in better fettle when we go to Kilmarnock.”
Dundee Utd manager Jackie McNamara:
“I thought we were excellent from start to finish. We looked a real threat with the chances we were creating.
“They have ability and they have a lot to offer. Andrew Robertson, I thought was terrific. He got his just rewards at the end with a fantastic finish.
“If anything I was a wee bit disappointed just going in at 2-0 at half-time. This is always a hard place to come to. Motherwell had won five out the last six games at home.
“We had to be on our game and today we were.”