Dom Thomas grabbed all four goals as Motherwell U20s edged out Falkirk 4-3 at the Excelsior Stadium this evening.
The Steelmen went behind early on but two goals from Thomas had them ahead at the interval. The hosts were pegged back by Ryan Blair but Thomas quickly fired them in front again with his hat-trick goal.
The Bairns hit back for a second time when Olumide Durojaiye pounced on a slip by Ross Stewart to prod home a corner but Thomas would have the last word, picking up on a rebounded shot to smash home the winner with seven minutes left on the clock.
Jonatan Johansson made two changes to the side that lost to Hearts seven days ago. Ross Stewart returned from International duty with Scotland U19s to take his place between the sticks, Max Currie dropping to the bench.
And, after his red card last week, Danny McNulty dropped out and was replaced by 16-year old Luke Watt, brother of former ‘Well youngster Josh.
The hosts made a positive start, forcing four successive corners, but Falkirk just about managed to defend them all. And, after seven minutes, it was Stevie Crawford’s side who had the first chance on goal, full-back Liam Dick could only direct his header straight at Stewart.
It was a warning shot the young Steelmen failed to heed as, with their next attack, Falkirk opened the scoring.
Blair Alston slipped in Lewis Small and the midfielder kept his composure to tuck it beyond Stewart into the far corner.
Motherwell immediately went on the hunt for an equaliser and Shirkie’s half-volley was blocked before Cadden’s cutback for Steven Higgins would have brought about a goal but for a last ditch block by Bairns keeper Graham Bowman.
The visiting keeper was in great form, blocking a stinging shot from both Thomas and Higgins, sandwiched either side of a Paul McCafferty shot that flashed just wide of the far post.
However, he was powerless to stop the leveler from Thomas. The little winger collected a flick from skipper Cadden, switched it onto his left foot before curling a cracking shot into the far corner.
It was a deserved leveler at that stage and Johansson’s men got it and it was another stunner from Thomas. The 17-year old winger collected a McCall pass before curling a beauty high into the top right hand corner with Bowman at full stretch.
There was still ten minutes to play before the break and ‘Well had further chances to score; McCafferty smashed a shot high over the bar and Cadden had another effort straight at Bowman.
Cadden also had the first effort of the second half, getting on the end of a McCafferty pass, but his effort lacked power. Seconds later, Thomas almost had his treble but again, ballooned his effort high over the crossbar.
Falkirk had struggled to get into things but Stewart had to look smart to deny Michael Martin, the ‘keeper having to turn his low shot around the post for a corner.
The Fir Parkers could have increased their lead when Higgins raced onto a Shirkie flick-on but he fired straight at Bowman.
It would prove a crucial miss as Falkirk got level shortly after and there was a real touch of fortune about the build-up, but Blair’s finish was quality.
Durojaiye completely miss-hit a shot that was heading towards the corner flag, but it turned out to be an excellent pass for his teammate. The midfielder coolly lifted the ball over the outrushing Stewart to level things up.
However, Motherwell quickly put that disappointment behind them as Thomas grabbed his third of the evening just minutes later.
He jinked past two on the edge of the area, played a neat give and go with Higgins before calmly tucking it past Bowman. An excellent goal to seal his treble!
It stayed that way until the 80th minute when Falkirk leveled for a second time. A corner from the right looked to be bread and butter for Ross Stewart, who was enjoying a very decent evening, but he spilled it, allowing Durojaiye to prod home from a few yards out.
Astonishingly, Dom Thomas took just three minutes to add his, and Motherwell’s, fourth to win the game. Bowman flapped at Paul McCafferty’s deep cross from the right, allowing Higgins in. The little striker’s shot was blocked, spun out to Thomas who blasted home despite Ryan McGeever’s best attempts to block it on the line.
‘Well could have added a fifth before the end, Shirkie firing wide before substitute Dylan Mackin fired both over and straight at Bowman, but 4-3 it remained as ‘Well moved to within six points of leaders Celtic.
Motherwell: Stewart, Watt, Ferguson, Hall, Neill, McCall (Johnstone – 63mins), McCafferty, Cadden, Shirkie, Thomas, Higgins (Mackin – 86mins)
Subs Not Used: Currie, McMillan, Leitch, MacLean