Motherwell U20s started the season with a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Hamilton Accies at New Douglas Park this evening.
Despite starting the game in a positive fashion, the visitors were a goal down inside five minutes when left-back Stephen Hendrie thundered a low shot across goal and into the far corner
It finished that way but Accies spurned a number of opportunities thanks to some excellent goalkeeping from Ross Stewart and some slack finishing, including an 85th minute penalty miss.
‘Well failed to really trouble Blair Currie in the home goal, with a Dylan Mackin shot in the 90th minute the best the Steelmen could muster.
In fairness, it was an extremely young side that was listed by Jonatan Johansson with four players in the starting eleven still eligible to play for the Under 17s.
Experience did come in the shape of Iain Vigurs, who only lasted 37 minutes before having to be withdrawn and Bob McHugh who was replaced the interval.
Accies had the recognisable face of manager Alex Neil in the middle of the park, but he too subbed himself at the break.
‘Well made a positive start and looked up for things in the very early exchanges; Dom Thomas posting early intentions with a nice piece of skill and cross that was cleared.
However, it didn’t take Accies long to settle and they were ahead on the fifth minute. A move across the park landed at the feet of Hendrie on the left flank and he took a touch to set himself before drilling an unstoppable shot into the far corner.
It could have been worse for ‘Well three minutes later and only a superb double-save from Stewart kept the score at 1-0.
Danny Armstrong’s cross was headed goalwards by Andy Ryan, which the Steelmen stopper somehow blocked from point-blank range. Incredibly, he was up like a flash to block Greg Docherty’s rebounded shot with his legs.
Johansson’s men looked rattled at this point, with Accies creating and passing up several chances with Eamonn Brophy, Ryan and Armstrong all denied by Stewart with Docherty firing a shot wide.
It took Motherwell until the midway point to create; Craig McCall seizing on Neil’s headed clearance but his hung up cross for Dylan Mackin was headed over by the big striker.
As the half wore on, both teams had half chances. Brophy fired high and wide and Thomas had Motherwell’s only effort on target during the first forty-five with a low shot comfortably held by Currie.
The hosts did have the ball in the net again before the interval; Armstrong’s curling shot was palmed out by Stewart only for Ryan to tuck home the rebound. However, assistant referee Matthew MacDermid’s late flag ensured the game remained at 1-0.
Motherwell introduced Higgins for McHugh at the break and he caused immediate problems with his pace. After just three minutes, he latched onto a short back pass but after cutting it back for Mackin, Accies had managed to get enough men behind the ball to block.
However, it wasn’t long before Stewart was back in action and he had to look smart to tip over Armstrong’s swerving effort. Four minutes later, the Scotland Youth International was at it again, this time denying Docherty from distance.
The game ten hit a lull with neither side creating much in the way of clear-cut chances. Both had some sniffs, Ross McLean almost connecting with Chris Cadden’s ball into the area at one end, Jesus Garcia Tena bringing out another smart stop from Stewart with a bouncing free kick from twenty yards.
With ten minutes left, Accies again spurned a golden chance from the penalty spot when Adam Cummins was adjudged to have tripped Ryan. Docherty stood up to take but his low shot came back off the base of the post and spun clear.
That should have provided ‘Well with the shot in the arm that they needed to rescue the match but, in truth, only a ninetieth minute turn and shot by Dylan Mackin caused Currie any concern.
It was a flat opening for Johansson’s side who admittedly were up against it in terms of experience and numbers, with several key players injured or suspended. Frustratingly, there is a two-week gap until Dundee United’s youths visit Fir Park.
Motherwell: Stewart, Cadden, McMillan, Cummins, Watt, McCall, Thomas, McLean, McHugh (Higgins – 46mins), Vigurs (R.Leitch – 37mins), Mackin
Subs Not Used: Currie, Campbell, Watters