Motherwell’s dismal Cup form continued when they were knocked out of the League Cup on penalties at New Douglas Park.
There was little between the sides in a fiercely contested clash, but luck deserted the Fir Parkers.
It was a cruel cup exit with Stuart McCall’s men looking the more likely to score and having no luck when the bar and post were rattled in quick succession in extra time.
While Accies had the better of the first half, Motherwell controlled most of the second, especially when Accies’ Stephen Hendrie was sent off.
However, when Mark O’Brien was harshly shown a second yellow card in extra time, it left both teams level in every aspect, ultimately only separated after 12 penalty kicks.
Even then it was close as John Sutton, Stepehn McManus, Henrik Ojamma, Jack Leitch and Josh Law expertly converted their spot kicks, before Simon Ramsden’s kick was saved by Michael McGovern leaving Craig Watson to ram his penalty past Dan Twardzik and send Accies into the quarter finals.
Stuart McCall made two changes from the side that performed so well at Celtic Park, Lionel Ainsworth and Jack Leitch coming in at the expense of Zaine Francis-Angol and Simon Ramsden.
Not surprisingly it was a frenetic start on Accies plastic pitch with the ball moving from one end to the other with neither side able slow the game down.
After 15 minutes a good break from ‘Well found Ainsworth heading down the right, but his final ball across the box was too far ahead of the inrushing Josh Law.
Mark O’Brien then had to make a sliding challenge just outside his six-yard box to deflect Eamonn Brophy’s strike at goal.
An inswinging corner from the home side had Dan Twardzik firmly punching the ball out from under his cross bar. The Fir Park ‘keeper then produced the first save of the match after 26 minutes when he leapt high to his left to spectacularly hold a rising shot from Brophy.
Motherwell mustered their first attempt on the home goal eight minutes later but at the end of a series of passing Leitch, from 30 yards, screwed his shot off target.
As the ‘Well players started to find their feet on the artificial surface more of the play headed towards McGovern’s goal and the ‘keeper was relieved to watch Mark O’Brien power his header over the cross bar from ten yards.
Ten minutes after the break ‘Well passed up a great chance for the opening goal. Vigurs’ long clearance from an Accies corner sent Ainsworth racing clear but after making his way to the goal line his cross failed to find the waiting John Suton and Law.
Two minutes later Ainsworth’s drive from the edge of the box deflected off the arm of an Accies defender but referee Craig Charleston waved aside appeals for a penalty.
The game was turning Motherwell’s way and Ainsworth becoming more involved. And his next pass was perfectly weighted for Sutton but Ziggy Gordon intervened to scoop the ball behind for a corner.
The pressure on the home side increased twenty minutes into the half when Accies were reduced to 10 men after Stephen Hendrie pulled down Ainsworth to earn his second yellow card.
It just looked a question of when ‘Well would find the opener. And when Vigurs’ low corner found Sutton in the six-yard box he should have done better than slide his shot two yards wide.
With 15 minutes remaining ‘Well produced their best move and chance. Leitch found Kerr out on the right and his cross was touched on by Sutton into the path of Vigurs whose thumping volley seemed certain for a wonderful goal until McGovern matched it with a stunning stop.
After 77 minutes, Vigurs made way for Henrik Ojamma. Within minutes of his arrival he was teed up by Law but from 20 yards, the Estonian dragged his shot wide of goal.
In the last chance of the 90 minutes Ainsworth’s floated free kick found Sutton but his header drifted over the bar.
Both ‘keepers had comfortable saves at the start of extra time, before the Hamilton goal had an amazing escape.
A smart one-two sent Law through but after he fired the ball past the advancing McGovern, it rebounded from the cross bar. With the ‘keeper stranded Ainsworth fired the loose ball towards goal only to see it strike the post and rebound past an inrushing defender and Law.
Motherwell were then reduced to 10 men when Mark O’Brien was harshly shown a second yellow. That forced Stuart McCall to re-organise his back four sending on Simon Ramsden for Ainsworth.
That left both teams level for the remaining 20 minutes of extra time but with neither side able to break the deadlock it came down to a dramatic penalty shoot out.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at New Douglas Park
It’s all over. Accies win 6-5 on pens
Accies pen 6: Watson….Scores!
Motherwell pen 6: Ramsden… SAVED
Accies Pen 5: Imrie….scores
Motherwell pen : Law scores!!
Accies Pen 4: Longridge..scores.
Motherwell Pen 4: Leitch…scores!!
Accies Pen 3: Devlin…Scores
Motherwell Pen 3: Ojamaa……SCORES!
Accies Pen 2: Crawford…scores.
Motherwell Pen 2: McManus….SCORES!!
Accies Pen 1: Gillespie…..Scores in off the bar!
Motherwell Pen 1: Sutton…….SCORES!
ET FT: Still 0-0 so penalties it is! #HAFCvMFC
3 minutes left until penalties….#HAFCvMFC
ET 21: Ojamaa’s powerful front post cross is plucked out the air by McGovern #HAFCvMFC
Second half of extra time is underway… #HAFCvMFC
ET HT: Hamilton Accies 0 – 0 Motherwell #HAFCvMFC
ET 14mins: Motherwell sub, Ainsworth off for Ramsden #HAFCvMFC
ET 11mins: RED CARD: O’Brien gets his second booking and he’s off! Looked soft #HAFCvMFC
ET 8mins: Decent effort from Lyon who drills a low shot from distance just wide. #HAFCvMFC
ET 5mins: Law hits the bar, falls to Sutton who fires it back into the path of Law but he cant convert!! What a chance #HAFCvMFC
ET 4mins: Laws cuts it back to Leitch on the edge of the box and he is unlucky to see his shot curl just wide #HAFCvMFC
ET 2mins: Ojamaa wins a free-kick in a great area…Ainsworth opts to deliver but McGovern gathers with ease #HAFCvMFC
Firs half of extra-time is underway #HAFCvMFC
FT: Hamilton Accies 0 – 0 Motherwell….to extra-time it goes #HAFCvMFC
2 minutes added on #HAFCvMFC
89mins: Free-kick to ‘Weill in a wide area….Sutton’s header loops just over! #HAFCvMFC
84mins: Accies sub, Redmond off for Imrie #HAFCvMFC
83mins: Greatfootball by ‘Well and as the ball falls to Ojamaa just ouside the box, his left footed shot flies inches wide! #HAFCvMFC
79mins: Motherwell sub, Vigurs off for Ojamaa #HAFCvMFC
78mins: Accies sub, Neil is off for Lyon #HAFCvMFC
77mins: Routine save from Twardzik to deny a soft Crawford shot from distance #HAFCvMFC
75mins: INCREDIBLE save from McGovern who somehow gets a hand to Vigur’s powerful close range volley :O #HAFCvMFC
71mins: Great chance for Sutty who slid in to meet Vigurs’ low corner but it flies just past! #HAFCvMFC
69mins: Accies sub, Andreu off for Watson #HAFCvMFC
65mins: RED CARD! Hendrie is given his marching orders for a second booking #HAFCvMFC
61mins: Neil flies into a header leading with his elbow. Nothing given, Lasley, temporarily forceed off for treatment #HAFCvMFC
59mins: Vigurs booked for dissent as yet again ‘Well have a strong handball claim turned away! #HAFCvMFC
57mins: Brophy gets on the end of a front post cross but can only poke the ball wide #HAFCvMFC
56mins: Great chance for ‘Well to break but the ball seemed to take an age to settle for Ainsworth to get a touch on it. Accies recover.
54mins: Redmond is booked for hacking down Leitch #HAFCvMFC
Leitch and Lasley get the second 45 underway. COYW! #HAFCvMFC
The teams are back out for the second half #HAFCvMFC
HT: Hamilton Accies 0 – 0 Motherwell #HAFCvMFC
45mins: Hendrie is booked for Accies #HAFCvMFC
44mins: O’Brien heads Vigurs’ free-kick delivery over the bar #HAFCvMFC
41mins: McManus is booked for a barge from behind. #HAFCvMFC
38mins: Andreu volleys well over on his left foot from 25 yards #HAFCvMFC
35mins: Corner to ‘Well….free header for Sutton but he heads well over! #HAFCvMFC
34mins: Patient build-up play from ‘Well eventually finds its way to Leitch whose awkward half volley isn’t far wide #HAFCvMFC
27mins: Acrobatic save from Twardzik to deny Andreu’s shot from distance… #HAFCvMFC
25mins: Looked like a foul on Lasley but ref waves play on. Fortunately Crawford fires his long range shot well over #HAFCvMFC
23mins: Lovely one two by Law and Lasley but as Law prepares to shoot, the ball gets caught under his feet and the chance is gone #HAFCvMFC
20mins: Accies win a corner. From the delivery, ref says Twardzik was fouled and play is stopped #HAFCvMFC
16mins: Great chance for Crawford after he is slid though 1 on 1 but O’Brien gets back to clear! #HAFCvMFC
15mins: ‘Well counter but Ainsworth’s ball into the box has no takers. #HAFCvMFC
14mins: Decent spell of pressure from Accies but Andreu can’t get enough power in his header to trouble Twardzik #HAFCvMFC
11mins: Great defending from McManus who throws himself in front of Longridge’s shot from the edge of the box #HAFCvMFC
Second delivery is swept clear by the Accies defence #HAFCvMFC
8mins: Law forces a corner,which Andreu heads wide for another one. #HAFCvMFC
6mins: First sniff of a chance for Accies but the through ball for Hendrie runs out of play for a goal kick #HAFCvMFC
5mins: Accies with the bulk of the ball in the opening 5, but no real chances as yet #HAFCvMFC
Out come the teams, ‘Well fans in great voice already. COYW!!! #HAFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I’ve never seen that (O’Brien’s first booking) in my entire life. O’Brien makes a tackle and the referee blows for half-time.
“We all came off the park and go in the dressing room, and the fourth official comes and says he wants to have a word with Mark O’Brien, after being harangued coming off the park. And then he calls him in and books him.
“Why didn’t he book him on the park? And I thought here we go, this is going to be typical. And the second yellow, he body-strengths him off the ball.
“The second yellow card is an absolute joke. It’s barely a foul and if that’s a yellow card I’m Dutch. You always think referees look to even things up and that decision swung the balance of the game.
“But for an unbelievable save from Vigurs, we would have gone through.”
Hamilton Accies manager Alex Neil:
“It’s good to be in the next round.
“I’ve got about seven first-team players out at the moment.
“I had three 18-year-olds playing towards the end with 10 men and one of the 18-year-olds pops up and scores the winning penalty, so you couldn’t really write the script.
“For the last year and a bit everything seems to be really falling into place.
“One thing about us is we’ve got huge energy in the squad. We’re doing well at the moment, we’re proving a hard nut to crack.”