Gavin McCafferty at Dens Park
10-man Motherwell crashed to a desperately disappointing 4-1 defeat at Dens Park this afternoon.
The Tayside club were helped by early goals from Alex Harris and Greg Stewart before John Sutton pulled one back for the visitors, only for Gary Irvine to restore the home team’s two-goal advantage.
Ian Baraclough’s Motherwell had Henrik Ojamaa sent-off for an elbow on Kevin Thomson just before half-time and they lost a further goal in 71 minutes when Marc O’Brien turned the ball into his own net.
The Steelmen made two changes to the side that were beaten by Aberdeen last Sunday. Luke Watt and Fraser Kerr dropped out, replaced by the returning Stuart Carswell and Dom Thomas, making his full debut.
Dundee boss Paul Harteley made one change to the home line up with new signing Kosta Gadzhalov replacing the injured James McPake in defence.
With ‘Well confidence fragile, the manager’s message before the game would have been to keep it tight in the early exchanges. It would be despair on the bench then when Dundee went ahead after just three minutes when on-loan Hibernian man Harris saw his shot deflect off Stephen McManus and past Dan Twardzik.
Inside eight minutes it was 2-0 as ‘Well’s defensive woes continued. The backline was too square, after after David Clarkson flicked the ball on to Stewart, the striker headed in his own rebound after shooting against the bar.
The Dark Blues looked by far the more comfortable but it was the Steelmen who hit back with a 19th-minute goal which made it 2-1.
A run down the right by Josh Law ended with a cross to the near post, which Sutton calmly knocked past the diving Scott Bain in the Dundee goal.
Dundee continued to push and newboy Gadzhalov almost got amongst the goals after meeting a Thomson corner with a downwards header, but ‘Well just about managed to sweep It clear.
The visitors then had Twardzik to thank for a stunning double save, firstly from David Clarkson and then Harris.
Incredibly though, from the resulting corner, the former Dee’s keeper gifted Irvine a third goal. Stewart’s corner looked easy enough for the Czech stopper, but he dropped it and Irvine could not believe his luck, being in the right place to lash the ball high into the net from point-blank range.
Things got even worse in 44 minutes when Estonian Henrik Ojamaa was shown a straight red card by referee Stephen Finnie for lashing out at Thomson. Television replays showed that contact was fairly minimal, but in the modern game, it would be difficult, and churlish, to argue with the decision.
Things stayed much the same after the break with the home team making clever use of the extra man, and Clarkson almost extended their lead in the 51st minute, only to see his dipping shot from outside the penalty area go inches wide of the target.
Shortly after, Paul McGowan laid the ball into the path of Stewart, whose curling shot was not far wide of Twardzik’s right-hand post.
Stewart then released Harris down the left in another swift attack but substitute Luka Tankulic could not connect with his cross.
Dundee rounded things off with a fortuitous fourth goal when Tankulic’s shot prompted a collision between O’Brien and Twardzik, and before they could do anything it was 4-1 to the hosts.
It would sum up the absolutely miserable afternoon on Tayside. The Claret and Amber men will need to improve 100% and quickly.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Dens Park
FT: Dundee 4 – 1 Motherwell #DFCvMFC
91mins: Harris jinks into the box and Josh Law does well to deflect his shot off target for a corner #DFCvMFC
3 minutes added on
89mins: Dundee have been camped in the ‘Well half. McGowan tries his luck from range but its just over #DFCvMFC
82mins: Carswell is booked for a late tackle on McGowan #DFCvMFC
76mins: Motherwell sub, Cadden on for Sutton #DFCvMFC
75mins: O’Brien is booked for a rash tackle on Tankulic #DFCvMFC
69mins: Goal – 4-1.An absolutely calamitous moment in the ‘Well defence as O’Brien and Twardzik colllide and the ball trickles into the net
65mins: Sutton is booked for a clumsy tackle on Davidson #DFCvMFC
59mins: Motherwell subs, Erwin and MacLean on for Ainsworth and Thomas #DFCvMFC
53mins: Dundee subs, Dyer, Harkins and Tankulic on for Thompson, Irvine and McAlister #DFCvMFC
53mins: Dundee work a short corner to Stewart who fires just past from the edge of the box #DFCvMFC
50mins: Clarkson attempts a volley from 25 yards and it’s inches away from the top corner. Still 3-1 #DFCvMFC
Second half is underway. 10 man ‘Well with it all to do…. #DFCvMFC
HT: Dundee 3 – 1 Motherwell #DFCvMFC
44mins: Red card! Ojamma is sent marching for a tackle on Thomson #DFCvMFC
36mins: Ojamaa showed a good turn of pace to burst past the Dundee defence then looked to be pushed to the ground but ref waves play on
33mins: Goal! Irvine makes it 3-1, firing home from a corner #DFCvMFC
29mins: Reid bursts down the line and wins a corner…O’Brien flicks it on and Dundee sweep it clear #DFCvMFC
25mins: Almost a carbon copy of the ‘Well goal there but this time Gadzhalov got there in front of Sutton to block Law’s cross #DFCvMFC
20mins: More good play from Thomas down the left and it’s another good ball in to Sutton but he can’t trouble Bain #DFCvMFC
19mins: Sutton pulls a goal back after good play down the right wing from Law and Ojamaa. 2-1 now #DFCvMFC
13mins: ‘Well win a corner which Thomas swings in. It is headed out to Lasley but he volleys well wide #DFCvMFC
9mins: It’s very nearly 3 as Twardizk has to pull off a superb diving save to deny Stewart #DFCvMFC
7mins: Goal – It’s 2-0 already as Stewart breaks clear and fires in off the bar #DFCvMFC
5mins: Great footwork from Thomas to get free on the left and he delivers a great low cross which nobody can take advantage of #DFCvMFC
3mins: Goal! – Harris opens the scoring with the first attack of the game. Took a massive deflection off of McManus to wrong foot Twardzik
McGowan and Stewart get the game underway #DFCvMFC
The teams are out the tunnel. Moments away from kick-off in Dundee #DFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“We talk from the start of the week and building up to match day about having a good start, getting a foothold in the game, making it difficult for your opponents, being on the front foot – and after eight minutes you’re 2-0 down.
“But it’s not acceptable that mistakes keep happening. It’s no coincidence that we are where we are and it’s not just in my time since I’ve come here. It’s been happening for a good part of the season as well.
“I’ve just said to the players there you’ve got to be responsible for not only your own game, but for other people’s as well and you have stay as a group together and demand the best from each other.
“It’s an easy thing to say you’d like to change a load (of players), but the fact is we haven’t got big pots of money to go and overhaul and the players that are in the dressing room at the moment are the ones that have got to dig themselves out.”
Dundee manager Paul Hartley:
“I’m really pleased for the players. There were some good goals from the boys.
“We’ve got a 14-point gap over the two teams at the bottom and we want to make that gap as big as possible.
“It’s a good lead for us and then we just have to look at the other teams above us like St Johnstone who we’re four points behind.
“We got off to a really positive start. We said that to the players beforehand, that we had to take the game to Motherwell.
“I thought we done that and young Alex Harris played a big part in our result today. We scored some good goals and, to be honest, I was disappointed that we didn’t score more goals.
“We had enough of the ball especially in the second-half to do so but we’ve got to be happy with the result at the end of the day.”