A goal in either half gave ‘Well a comfortable 2-0 win over Inverness Caley Thistle Under 20s this evening.
Frazer Johnstone grabbed his first of the season with a stunning volley on the half hour.
Paul McCafferty added a second goal ten minutes into the second period with a close-range header.
And although the home side had more chances to extend their advantage, they cruised through for a comfortable win.
Jonatan Johansson made three changes to the side that lost to Dundee United fourteen days ago. Ben Hall, Luke Watt and Craig McCall dropped out and were replaced by Danny McNulty, Euan Murray and Dom Thomas.
Inverness made a decent start and had a couple of shots through Matthew Cooper and Adam Evans, but neither troubled Brett Long in the home goal.
It took the Steelmen seventeen minutes to register any sort of effort of their own but, like his counterparts from Caley, Steven Higgins’ shot lacked the desired power and was comfortable for Cammy MacKay to gather.
Four minutes later, Euan Murray had the ball in the net after bulleting home a Dom Thomas corner, but referee Peter Stuart ruled it out, adjudging the defender to have illegally manhandled Cooper.
‘Well were starting to get the upper hand as the half-hour approach and after neat interplay between Higgins and Thomas, the latter’s shot was blocked for a corner.
From the resulting kick from the quadrant, Johnstone was first to feed on the scraps on the edge of the area and unleashed an unstoppable volley high into the roof of the net to give the hosts a lead.
Four minutes later and the Fir Parkers almost doubled their lead. Morgyn Neill’s ball over the top had Dale Shirkie in on goal, but when the ball didn’t drop, he scooped his effort high over the bar.
Before the break, Inverness had a half chance when Adam Evans got in behind Danny McNulty to get on the end of Evans’ pass, but could only prod over. Down the other end, Thomas had a decent chance from a close-range free kick but could only fire it straight at MacKay.
‘Well started the second period on the front foot and Higgins posted early intentions with a fierce strike that went narrowly over.
It was a warning the Highlanders failed to heed as, with their next attack, Johansson’s men doubled their advantage.
Thomas and Higgins again combined and when Higgins whipped in a teasing near post cross, pint-sized winger Paul McCafferty had made a clever run across his marker and headed home from close range.
‘Well spent the rest of the match in almost complete control. Murray again came close to netting when he met another Thomas free-kick, but his header went wide of the post.
Cadden had a long-range strike palmed out by MacKay after lovely build-up play through the middle of the park and Dom Thomas almost scored the strike of his life, jinking past the whole Caley backline only to be denied an astonishing goal by a sliding block at the expense of a corner.
Then, with thirteen minutes left, Dale Shirkie thought he had scored ‘Well’s third but after dancing around a number of challenges, he smashed his shot off the crossbar.
Murray headed a corner wide and Thomas had another shot blocked after a good run as the Steelmen finished the game on top, but failed to add to their lead.
Motherwell: Long, McNulty, Ferguson (McMillian – 85mins), Murray, Neill, Johnstone, McCafferty, Cadden (R.Leitch – 77mins), Shirkie, Thomas, Higgins (Mackin – 71mins)
Subs Not Used: Currie, Hall