Phil McGhee at Tannadice
Despite a vastly improved performance, ‘Well crashed to their fifth straight defeat at Tannadice this afternoon.
A second-half double from midfielder Charlie Telfer allied to defender Jaroslaw Fojut’s header proved enough for Jackie McNamara’s men, despite Simon Ramsden’s goal on 79 minutes for the visitors.
That doesn’t tell the story of the game though with ‘Well posing a threat throughout what turned out to be a controversial afternoon.
Motherwell started the brighter of the two teams and most of the play was towards the Eddie Thompson stand. The first effort came via Stephen Pearson, but his goal bound looking shot hit a deflection on route and spun away to safety.
‘Well then had the first of two penalty shouts when Lee Erwin was tackled inside the area. On first viewing, it looked like a good interception, although the award of a goal kick was certainly puzzling. Minutes earlier, United had a claim when the ball struck McManus’ arm, but it certainly appeared to be ball to hand, with the defender just a yard or so away.
Then, nine minutes later, there was another claim but this one was far easier to call – it was a stonewaller! Lee Erwin cut the ball back for Pearson inside the area, and after beating Morris to the ball; the midfielder was cleaned out by Callum Morris.
Referee Craig Thomson, who was right up with play, inexplicably waved the claims away.
It was all Motherwell at this stage, who were regularly getting into the final third, but a lack of composure would cost them. Lee Erwin was the creator for both Pearson and John Sutton, but their touch deserted both of them at the vital stage.
It took the Terrors almost until the half hour to settle into the game. Morris had a header straight at Twardzik. Ten minutes later, Blair Spittal brought out an excellent stop from the Czech keeper, who turned away his curling effort at full stretch.
The Steelmen stopper had to look smart to stop from Stuart Armstrong before a huge moment of controversy minutes from the interval.
‘Well thought they had taken the lead when Pearson’s run and square ball for Sutton was prodded goalwards by a combination of the striker and the recovering Sean Dillon. As it bounced up, Morris hooked it off the line.
Craig Thomson initially awarded the goal, then after consultation with his assistant, David McGeachie, chalked it off. The visitors were furious and to make matters worse, and even more confusing, a drop ball was awarded on the edge of the six-yard box, which Motherwell weren’t allowed to contest.
Bizarre stuff to end the half, but the Steelmen would certainly go into the dressing room feeling content with a very positive first half.
They continued that vein of form as the second kicked off, with Erwin firing wide after good build-up play by Pearson again.
Then, on 57 minutes, the Steelmen passed up yet another excellent opportunity. Good harassing front play from Sutton, holding off Fojut, allowed Pearson to wriggle free on the edge of the area. With just Cierzniak to beat, the 10-times capped for Scotland International fired straight at the Pole who blocked.
It was to prove a pivotal miss as with virtually their next attack, United took the lead.
Telfer collected a loose ball from 20 yards after Connolly has started an attack and the former Rangers midfielder picked his spot to send an accurate right-foot effort through a ruck of bodies and into Twardzik’s bottom corner.
On 69 minutes the home team went 2-0 ahead in simple fashion, as Fojut’s free header from Connolly’s corner beat Twardzik low down.
After all their good work, it looked as if the Steelmen would crumble but to their credit, they dusted themselves down and battled back into the game.
Indeed, they pulled a goal back when substitute Lionel Ainsworth dispossessed Dillon out wide, before crossing for Simon Ramsden to fire home a half-volley from 12 yards.
There was a sense that ‘Well could go on and earn the point they probably deserved. The hosts looked nervy, particularly at the back, and gave the ball away cheaply, much to the frustration of the 7,000 home crowd.
However, with ‘Well throwing everything at it, including a tantalizing low ball across the face from Moore that only just eluded the sliding Pearson, United sealed the win with a late third.
Ryan Dow made progress down the left and laid the ball into Telfer’s path to allow him to pick his spot from 18 yards.
It was a bitter blow for Baraclough’s men. However, they will travel home to Lanarkshire knowing similar battling performances, coupled with new faces and the return of some key personnel from injury, will hopefully see them in with a better chance of a return to winning ways.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Tannadice
FT: Dundee Utd 3 – 1 Motherwell #DUFCvMFC
92mins: Goal – Utd counter and Telfer slides it into the back of the net to make it 3-1 #DUFCvMFC
3 minutes added on #DUFCvMFC
82mins: Moore gets the better of Fojust and cuts the ball across goal. Inches away from Pearson! #DUFCvMFC
79mina: Dundee Utd sub, Armstong off for Paton #DUFCvMFC
77mins: Ramsden volleys home Ainsworth’s cross to make it 2-1. #DUFCvMFC
75mins: Motherwell sub, Ainsworth on for Carswell #DUFCvMFC
71mins: Pearson tries his luck from 25 yards and its not far wide of the post #DUFCvMFC
70mins: Dundee Utd sub, Mackay-Steven on for Connolly #DUFCvMFC
69mins: Goal – Fojut heads home a corner to make it 2-0 #DUFCvMFC
67mins: Morris is booked for wiping out Pearson on the half way line #DUFCvMFC
66mins: Motherwell sub, Law off for Moore #DUFCvMFC
64mins: Free-kick to ‘Well in a decent area, 25 yards out….Law drills it straight at Cierzniak #DUFCvMFC
61mins: Goal – Telfer makes it 1-0 with a low shot from distance #DUFCvMFC
60mins: Ball falls to Armstrong inside the box and he opts to hit it on the spin. Thankfully it is well over the bar #DUFCvMFC
57mins: Great chance for Watt as he barged his way through the defence. With Cierzniak to beat, he fired straight at him! #DUFCvMFC
55mins: Dundee Utd sub, Anier off for Ciftci #DUFCvMFC
47mins: Pearson bursts past the defence and sets up Erwin who skews his shot wide of the post #DUFCvMFC
Second half is underway #DUFCvMFC
HT: Dundee Utd 0 – 0 Motherwell #DUFCvMFC
..then for whatever reason went back over to him and chopped it off. Still 0-0 #DUFCvMFC
Pearson squared in Sutton who poked it goalwards and Morris cleared. Ref seemed to take inial advice from linesman and give goal….
Chopped off! Shambles! Ref gave the goal then changed his mind as the celebrations we in mid swing!
42mins: Twardzik again is called into action, this time to save from Armstrong, whose powerful strike was right at him #DUFCvMFC
38mins: Great save from Twardzik as Spittal had burst forward from right back and got a good shot away #DUFCvMFC
27mins: Morris gets on the end of a corner but his header is too weak to trouble Twardzik #DUFCvMFC
23mins: Utd win a corner….Connolly collects it at the back post and shoots but it’s deflected wide for another corner #DUFCvMFC
20mins: Another half chance. Erwin curls a ball over the Utd defence but it’s awkward for Sutton to control and Cierzniak gathers #DUFCvMFC
19mins: Erwin hooks in a deep cross which finds Pearson but his touch eludes him and the ball rolls out for a goal kick #DUFCvMFC
16mins: Another pen shout! Pearson looked to have been tripped as he went past Morris with only Cierzniak to beat but ref waves it away!
15mins: More positive play from ‘Well, this time the ball gets caught under Law’s feet as he jinked into the box looking to shoot #DUFCvMFC
13mins: Good work from Erwin down the right to cut the ball back across goal but there is no takers! #DUFCvMFC
Ref waves both away… #DUFCvMFC
8mins: Pen claims for both teams within a minute! Ball appeared to his McManus’ hand in the box then ‘Well counter and Erwin hits the deck
5mins: Utd win a free-kick wide on the right which Connolly bends in. Pearson is on hand to head clear the danger #DUFCvMFC
Law and Carswell get the game underway. COYW! #DUFCvMFC
The teams are out the tunnel, ‘Well in their white away kit, Utd in their Black and Orange #DUFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“It was one that got away. I’m not going to sit here and cane the officials. It was one we had a good grip on. We created chances. We’ve got a bit of spirit about us.
“There was a lot of endeavour and desire to win individual battles. On another day it would have gone for us.”
Dundee Utd manager Jackie McNamara:
“This is a great three points. Motherwell were probably the better team in the first 15 minutes but after that I thought we came into it more and created enough chances to be deserved winners.”