Phil McGhee at New Douglas Park
Motherwell crashed out the Scottish Cup with one of the worst results in the clubs’ history, losing 1-0 to League Two side Albion Rovers at New Douglas Park.
With Motherwell looking at best to take a replay from what was a terrible perfomance, Gary Phillips fired in a last minute goal, to send a barrage of boos towards a ‘Well side, an incredible 37 league places above their Lanarkshire rivals.
Motherwell couldn’t even blame their embarassing exit on an inferior pitch or ground as the Second Division Coatbridge side elected to move the game to a neutral venue.
Subsequently, all roads led to Hamilton for this all Lanarkshire Scottish Cup tie. And with over 2,500 ‘Well fans inside New Douglas Park, there was a cup carnival atmosphere and a real expectation.
In truth, though, ‘keeper Neil Parry saw little action over the 90 minutes as the Premiership side toiled to test him, forcing just one save, amazingly 12 minutes from time.
Stuart McCall paid Rovers his utmost respect by fielding an almost full strength side. Stevie Hammell returned from injury to wear the captain’s armband, with Keith Lasley joining John Sutton on the bench. That meant Bob McHugh partnering Henri Anier in attack.
The ‘Well fans packed into the main stand anticipated that the pair would lead a goal rout against their lowly opposition. But the huge gap in league places was never obvious in the first half and while it may have taken McCall’s men some time to adjust to the artificial surface, the fans had nothing to get excited about in the first 20 minutes.
In fact the first thing of note came from Rovers when Liam Cusack’s 20 yard drive was brilliantly palmed over the crossbar by Gunnar Nielsen.
Motherwell’s response was immediate, McHugh nodding Fraser Kerr’s cross over the bar.
With 30 minutes played some decent build up on the left provided an opening for Stuart Carswell but from the edge of the box he dragged his shot wide leaving Rovers’ ‘keeper Neil Parry still awaiting his first save.
At the other end the Coatbridge side conjured up another half chance when Chris Dallas, eight yards in front of goals volleyed the ball over Nielsen’s bar.
Two minutes from half-time Paul Lawson fired a drive high over the bar as a very disapointing fist half ended with the Rovers’ defence completely untroubled – and the ‘Well fans loudly sounding their disapproval.
Not surprisimgly McCall made a half-time change when he brought on Sutton for McHugh. And the striker who, on his first spell with the club, scored in every round when he led ‘Well to the 2011 Scottish Cup Final, hoped for a similar impact.
And twelve minutes into the half Sutton had his first chance when he collected a headed pass from James McFadden but his volley from 25 yards dipped over the crossbar.
Sutton then chested a through pass from Shaun Hutchison into Anier’s path but he snatched at his shot as ‘Well desperately looked for a breakthrough.
After 72 minutes McCall decided that some drastic action was required sending on Lasley and Jack Leitch, to make his first team debut. But it did little to change the pattern of the game.
It was Rovers who almost grabbed the lead after 76 minutes when Mark McGuigan cut inside Hammell before driving his shot just wide of goal.
Two minutes later Parry made his only save of the game when he reacted well to block Sutton’s header on the goal line allowing Cusack to boot the ball clear before any ‘Well player could react.
Motherwell’s desperation was underlined four minutes from time when Shaun Hutchison, devoid of options, fired a 30 yard drive over Parry’s crossbar.
Then in the 89th minute and with a draw looking likely, Rovers produced their memorable winning goal.
After a couple of blocked attempts the ball broke to Phillips at the edge of the box and his low drive through a ruck of players had Nielsen at full stretch. Although the ‘keeper got a touch he couldn’t prevent the ball bouncing into the corner of his net.
‘Well still had time to redeem the situation in added on time but Anier summed up the afternoon when he slashed his shot well wide of target as McCall’s men, for the second successive season crashed out of all cup competitions before Christmas.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at New Douglas Park
FT: Albion Rovers 1 – 0 Motherwell
91mins: Ball falls to Anier but he slices it over inside the box
3 minutes added on
89mins: GOAL! Albion Rovers 1 – 0 Motherwell
85mins: 5 minutes left and ‘Well desperately looking for a way through. Albion defending solidly
82mins: Albion sub, Cusack off for Flood
77mins: Corner to ‘Well…..Sutton’s header is cleared off the line!
76mins: McGuigan turns Hammell and fires just wide from 20 yards!
First team debut for Jack Leitch, son of Scott. 15 minutes left, still 0-0
72mins: Motherwell subs, Leitch and Lasley on for McFadden and Francis-Angol
72minns: Albion sub, Tiffney on for Dallas
61mins: Corner to Albion…..delivery evades all in the box and is out for a goalkick #arfcvmfc
57mins: Ball falls to Sutton some 25 yards out. Has an effort with his left foot but it’s too ambitious and well over #arfcvmfc
Second half underway #arfcvmfc
HT: Albion Rovers 0 – 0 Motherwell #arfcvmfc
45mins: Corner to ‘Well……..McFadden delivers and it eventually falls to Carswell who scoops it well over #arfcvmfc
43mins: Albion proving hard to break down. Lawson opts to shoot from range but fires well over with his left foot
35mins: Great chance for Phillips! Shrugged off his marker and from the cross, didn’t connect well and blazed over! #arfcvmfc
30mins: McFadden cuts it back to Francis-Angol who squares to Carswell. On his left foot, he slices it just past from 16 yards #arfcvmfc
22mins: McHugh heads just over from Kerr’s cross!
20mins: Corner to Albion after a fantastic save from Nielsen to deny Cusack! #arfcvmfc
14mins: Decent effort from McHugh. Hit it on the spin from 25 yards but watches it curl well wide
9mins: Another corner to ‘Well, Lawson delivers from the left but Albion head clear
7mins: Francis-Angol goes on a mazy run and the ball almost breaks to him inside the box. Reid clears though #arfcvmfc
With the minute’s silence impeccably observed, Carswell and Lawson kick the game off! #arfcvmfc
Hammell and Donnelly lead the teams out the tunnel. #arfcvmfc
Albion Rovers manager James Ward:
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall: