Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell slipped to a disappointing 0-2 home defeat at the hands of Inverness Caley.
A Greg Tansey goal just before the break and a second from Aaron Doran two minutes from the end was sufficient to give the Highlanders all three points against a home side which never looked like breaking down the well-organised visitors.
Eighteen-year-old David Ferguson made his home debut covering at left back for the injured Zaine Francis-Angol and Jack Leitch dropped to the bench and was replaced by Lionel Ainsworth.
The Mothwerwell bench looked a bit healthier, though, with Iain Vigurs and Paul Lawson on the way back from injury. There was also a seat amongst the substitutes for Henrik Ojamaa after returning to the club on loan in midweek.
Inverness, largely unchanged from last season, were the more settled and controlled throughout the match although ‘Well almost snatched the lead after eleven minutes.
Dean Brill, who was not forced to make a save of any note, raced from his goal but under pressure from Lee Erwin sent his clearance to Lionel Ainsworth. From 30 yards and wide of goal the winger curled a fabulous effort over the stranded ‘keeper only to watch Gary Warren head clear from under the cross bar.
Sadly, that was the closest Inverness came to conceding their first goal of the season as Sutton remained isolated and the home attack toothless.
Instead most of the action was towards the home goal and Dan Twardzik produced his first save of the afternoon after 20 minutes diving low to his left to push away a Tansey drive from the edge of the area.
The ‘Well ‘keeper again denied the Liverpudlian six minutes later when he brilliantly beat away a thumping angled shot. But when the ball was returned across goal it was Ferguson’s superbly timed block on Ryan Christie, ten yards in front of goal, which prevented the opening strike.
However, four minutes from half-time, Thistle took a deserved lead when Tansey was allowed to run towards the home box before his shot skimmed off the surface and beyond the diving Twardzik.
The home fans were less than pleased at the half-time whistle but their mood changed after the break with Ojamaa coming on at the expense of Ainsworth.
Suddenly the Fir Park players had a bit more energy about them and a couple of strong runs beyond the visitors defence from Stuart Carswell and the tireless Erwin provided some promise of a fightback.
After 72 minutes Vigurs replaced John Sutton allowing Erwin to play through the middle of the home attack in the hope of unsettling the visitors defence.
But while ‘Well pushed forward in hope of an equaliser they stood the risk of Thistle nicking one on the break and only the pace of Fraser Kerr matched Aaron Doran strong run to deny the Caley sub.
John Hughes’ men were not to be denied a second goal though and two minutes from time, Doran curled an effort from the corner of the box high beyond Twardzik to wrap up the points and round off a miserable afternoon for Stuart McCall’s side.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 0 – 2 Inverness CT #MFCvICTFC
90mins: 3 minutes added on.
89mins: GOAL! Doran wins it for Caley. 2-0.
86mins: Vigurs booked for a clumsy challenge on Draper in the ICT half.
84mins: Motherwell sub, Lasley off for Leitch
81mins: Ball falls to Warren at the backpost. Ferguson does enough to put him off and he can only slice wide
80mins: ICT sub, McKay makes way for Ross.
And 2 ICT subs,Williams and Christie off for Doran and Polworth
72mins: Motherwell sub, Sutton off for Vigurs.
69mins: Williams hacks down Erwin 30 yards out. Decent position for a shot but the wall does it’s job to deny Lasley
68mins: Law swings in a free-kick from wide on the left but Caley head clear. No way through for ‘Well.
58mins: ‘Carswell well shows a good turn of pace to get past Shinnie but his cut back is deflected high above the head of Sutton
56mins: Kerr is fouled on the edge of the box but ref waves play on. Stuart McCall is raging, and on first look, rightly so!
53mins: Erwin wins a corner which Law delivers….McManus heads it goalwards from 15 yards but ICT clear easily.
46mins: ‘Well have a free-kick in a great position which Sutton takes. Warren takes a sore one to the…well, he takes a sore one.
Half-time sub for ‘Well, Ojamaa is on for Ainsworth. Second half underway. COYW!!!
HT: Motherwell 0 – 1 ICT
44mins: Law wins a corner as ‘Well search for an equaliser..
41mins: GOAL! Tansey fires a shot from distance low past Twardzik to make it 1-0 to Caley!
36mins: Corner to ‘Well, Caley clear and break which leads to Reid being booked for bringing down McKay.
30mins: Free-kick to ‘Well 30 yards out. Ainsworth takes it on but drills it into the ICT defence.
26mins: Twardzik then Ferguson to the rescue! Twardzik did well to deny Watkins Ferguson slid in to deny Christie. ICT on top here.
21mins: Close for Caley! First Tansey forces Dan into a good save, then McKay pokes a shot just past from 8 yards!
15mins: Christie does well to work some space in midfield. He shoots from 30 yards but see’s it fly well past the post.
…a shot from 25 yards towards goal but Shinnie got back to head it off the line! Unlucky!
11mins: Great effort from Ainsworth! Brill had charged off his line to clear from Erwin and it landed at Lionel’s feet. He curled…
10mins: Raven wins a free-kick on the edge of the ‘Well box which Shinnie blasts well over the bar.
6mins: ICT win a second corner, this time it is headed inches wide by Draper!
5mins: ICT get the first corner of the game. Williams swings it in, McManus leaps and heads clear.
1min: Game is underway… ‘mon the ‘Well! #MFCvICTFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“To sum it up, it’s quite simple; we were absolutely rotten.
“I thought they were very good. Basic stuff today we couldn’t do, we couldn’t pass from A to B. We’ve got a lot of work to do next week.
“Again, we couldn’t name the side today until just before the game, but that’s no excuse, we were really poor in all departments today and I don’t think we mustered an attempt at goal if I’m honest. There were two good goals from them today, no doubt about it, Tansey and Doran with two quality finishes.
“Certainly they deserved it massively and we’ve under-performed, and we have done really, we’ve not been up at it.”
Inverness CT manager John Hughes:
“The first half performance was very good, very slick.
“Ball retention, total domination, moving the ball around, but we never scored. Then we got our wee break just before half-time and it settled us down.
“No two halves are ever the same, but we were wise to that. We knew that Motherwell would change shape, they put (Henrik) Ojamaa up top, so we had to be a bit more compact and play on the counter attack, but we can do that because we work at it, it doesn’t just happen, but it took us right to the last minute to get that second goal.
“The pleasing things; first half performance was very, very good, we were pleasing on the eye, and we kept a clean sheet.
“I can’t speak highly enough of these boys, they’ve had a great buy-in to our philosophy.”