Motherwell U20s returned to winning ways in spectacular style, winning 1-5 at St Mirren Park this evening.
Mark O’Brien and Bob McHugh gave the Steelmen a commanding first-half lead, before Kieran Sadlier reduced the deficit on the stroke of half time.
However, it wouldn’t deter Jonatan Johansson’s men, who went on to win handsomely, with further goals coming from Craig Moore and a Dom Thomas double.
‘Well made four changes to the side that lost narrowly to St Johnstone last midweek. Jack McMillan, Stuart Carswell, Ben Hall and Dylan Mackin dropped out, replaced by Fraser Kerr, Jack Leitch, O’Brien and Moore.
And Motherwell took the lead after just seven minutes; however, it wasn’t the first chance of the game.
Saints stopper Mark Fodden brilliantly turned around Moore’s close range header, but he was powerless to stop the next effort when, from the resulting corner, Mark O’Brien bulleted home Dom Thomas’ cross.
Kerr almost made it two with another header from a Thomas corner, whilst Saints’ first effort of the game came through Lewis Morgan, but his long-range effort sailed high over the crossbar.
Motherwell continued to press but it was Saints who were presented with a great opportunity to level when referee Stephen Brown adjudged Luke Watt to have pushed Sadlier in the area. Former Ross County Yoann Arquin stepped up, but he screwed it wide of the post, and bizarrely though an advertising board!
Dom Thomas had couple of half chances with shots from distance before Bob McHugh doubled the Steelmen’s advantage after 36 minutes.
Luke Watt was the architect, sending a lovely ball over the top in between the Saints’ backline and Fodden. McHugh nipped between both, rounded the keeper and slotted the ball into an empty net.
It looked at that stage as if ‘Well might run away with the game, particularly when Nathan Thomas came close to adding a third, only to be stopped by an excellent defensive block.
However, Saints got back into the game seconds before the half-time interval. Callum Ball sprung the offside trap and hared into the box. He was thwarted by the diving Brett Long, but still was able to prod it back to Sadlier who smashed home from an acute angle.
Undeterred, ‘Well made a positive start to the second period and McHugh was unlucky not to add a third with a low shot just wide, before Ross MacLean thundered a long-range shot that forced Fodden to parry.
Saints’ goal was leading a charmed life and they had Jordan Stewart to thank for an excellent clearance on the line, when he got back behind his keeper to somehow deny McHugh a brace.
However, a third looked inevitable and when it came, it was a thing of beauty.
McHugh’s turn took two out the game, before dinking it forward to Jack Leitch whose deft back heel flick for the supporting Moore was exquisite, allowing the striker to race in on goal. His powerful shot was parried by Fodden, only for Dom Thomas to smash high into the net from close range.
The Steelmen sensed blood and went for more goals, Fodden having to look smart to deny both Leitch and Nathan Thomas from distance, but again, he was helpless to stop ‘Well adding a fourth.
Leitch’s quick-thinking free-kick played Moore in over the top, and he unleashed a stunning strike high into the top corner to confirm the win.
If goals three and four were out the top drawer then goal five, some six minutes later was, well, the opposite. McHugh and Thomas combined down the left and when the latter eventually sent a cutback for his wing partner, Thomas Reilly blocked his shot before Mark William’s attempted clearance cannoned off the 19-year old and squirmed past the despairing Fodden.
It was a goal that summed up a miserable night for the Buddies. Johansson would have been delighted with his side, who returned to winning ways in convincing style.
Motherwell: B. Long, Watt, Ferguson, J. Leitch, O’Brien (McMillan – 47mins), Kerr, N. Thomas (Higgins – 79mins), Moore, McHugh, D. Thomas, MacLean
Subs: Currie, McNulty, McCall, Mackin, Anderson