Motherwell U20s slumped to a 1-4 home defeat at the hands of an impressive St Mirren this evening.
The Steelmen were second best throughout the ninety minutes, and were perhaps lucky to only lose by a three-goal margin.
Saints were slick and pacey in attack and Barry Cuddihy, Josh Beattie and a double from Robbie Mitchell did the damage – Chris Cadden’s goal for ‘Well was little more than a temporary consolation.
There can be little doubt the young ‘Well were suffering from their exertions at Greenock on Sunday, together with the emotion of dealing with the resignation of first-team boss Stuart McCall.
Jonatan Johansson made four changes to the side that lost on Sunday, with Ross Stewart, Jack McMillan, Josh Watt and Dylan Mackin dropping out, replaced by Max Currie, Danny McNulty, Ben Hall and Liam Anderson.
However, it would be Saints who would start on the front foot and they had a couple of shots blocked before taking the lead after just six minutes. An excellent cross from the left-flank was perfect for the late arrival of midfielder Cuddihy, who ghosted in between the ‘Well defensive line to head home from close range.
Motherwell’s reply came through Anderson, who curled an effort at goal that was held by Mark Fodden before Ross MacLean tumbled in the area, but despite half-hearted shouts for a spot kick, the referee was having none of it.
‘Well then passed up what would turn out to be a crucial chance when Cadden played a one-two with MacLean, only to turn his eight-yard shot wide of the left-hand post.
It was crucial, as, shortly after, Saints had doubled their advantage.
They had fired a warning shot across the bow when Conor O’Keefe had the ball in the net, only to be thwarted by the assistant’s flag. However, there was no saving the ‘Well when Josh Beattie made it 0-2 just before the half hour.
The fullback collected the ball after productive work down the right flank and he smashed a low shot through a ruck of players and under Max Currie to give the Fir Parkers a real uphill task.
‘Well tried to mix it up, introducing Dylan Mackin into the fold in place of Steven Higgins and the big striker headed over a Ferguson cross just before the break as the score remained at 0-2.
Just twenty seconds after the restart, Ricky Waddell’s side could have made it three when Lewis Morgan raced clear of the Claret and Amber rearguard, but couldn’t beat the outrushing Currie who stood up well to make the block.
Currie was again on hand to deny Saints nine minutes later, Lewis McLear wriggled clear of the last man only to see his shot well stopped by the young keeper.
Only luck would stop Saints from the resulting corner though, Cuddihy so close to his second, only to watch his close range effort cannon back off the frame of the goal.
The visitors in black and white continued to threaten though and Morgan fired another two shots over the bar before Adam Brown passed up a chance to score after a neat cutback had him in a great position in the middle of the goal, on to snatch at the shot which screwed wide.
McLear had another effort over before Saints did eventually make it three-nil, substitute Robbie Mitchell rounding off an impressive move with an equally as impressive finish, lifting the ball over Currie and into the net.
‘Well did grab a consolation a minute later when Danny McNulty’s neat little ball into the area caused confusion for the goalkeeper with Ryan Watters close by, allowing Chris Cadden to steal in at the back post and smash home into an empty net.
However, any hopes of a miraculous comeback were quickly extinguished when Mitchell added his second, and Saints’ fourth, near the end, racing onto a long ball over the top to slip past Currie and into the net.
It ended what was a miserable night for the Fir Parkers, who haven’t played as badly all season. They will hope to bounce back when they face an away trip to Dundee United next week.
Motherwell: Currie, McNulty, Ferguson, Hall, Neill, McCall (Watters – 80mins), Anderson, Cadden, Higgins (Mackin – 34mins), Thomas, McLean
Subs Not Used: Stewart, McMillan, Watt, Leitch, Campbell