Phil McGhee Fir Park
Two goals in the final seven minutes consigned an unlucky Motherwell to their first home defeat since February.
After a positive opening to the season at Inverness last week and the first 30 minutes of their first home fixture, it was a bitterly disappointing outcome for Baraclough’s men.
However, despite dominating play for large periods of the game, ‘Well failed to capitalise in front of goal and ulitmately paid the penalty as United gradually came into the game, forcing some great saves from Connor Ripley on his home debut.
Along with the ‘keeper, midfielder Joe Chalmers and striker Wes Fletcher made their home debut, with Louis Laing making his return after his loan period was made permanent.
All four impressed on their first Fir Park appearance and with Stephen Pearson’s sidelined with a knee injury, Jack Leitch made his first league start in almost a year.
United also boasted several changes since the sides last met when ‘Well won 1-0 at Fir Park last November.
The home fans anticipation that Baraclough’s new line-up could build on last week’s win were matched by the home side’s complete domination for the first quarter of the game.
With Chalmers and Marvin Johnson on the left and right flanks respectively, and Scott McDonald supporting Fletcher from the middle, United were pressed into their own third from the start.
After only three minutes Johnson cut along the box, working a slick 1-2 with Chalmers before his left foot strike had the ball curling inside the post until Luis Zwick at full stretch palmed the ball wide.
Chalmers in the centre of goal almost got on the end of Josh Law’s low cross and as the ball bounced in the six yard box Zwick nicked it off the alert looking Fletcher’s toes.
In the 15th minute McDonald was next to test the United ‘keeper but his drive from 20 yards was straight at the waiting Zwick.
At that stage Motherwell’s slick passing and possession should have been rewarded but gradually the fizz went out of their play. Ripley, who was a virtual spectator for the first 25 minutes, was then called upon to hold John Soutar’s through ball.
The ‘keeper’s next involvement after 32 minutes, though, brought acclaim from the fans behind him in the Cooper stand. The ‘Well defence failed to clear its lines and as the ball rolled out to the edge of the box Scott Fraser’s rising strike looked destined for the opener until Ripley rose high to his left to tip the ball over.
United finished the half the stronger side and five minutes from the break Ripley had to throw himself to the right to beat away a bouncing grounder from Charlie Telfer.
That feat was repeated shortly after the restart when the ‘Well ‘keeper got down smartly to smother Telfer’s low drive.
Some surging runs from Johnson coupled with some neat exchanges and crosses from Chalmers and Stevie Hammell on the left, worked the visitor’s defence.
But it was Ripley to the rescue after 56 minutes when he stood firm to again deny Telfer, his close range shot rebounding off the ‘keeper’s face.
From the resultant corner the home side broke upfield but after outpacing Coll Donaldson, Johnson could only slam his finish against the exposed ‘keeper.
A minute later a wonderful ball from Josh Law in behind the Tannadice defenders found Chalmers racing in at the back post but with Zwick again exposed he scooped the ball over the bar.
Eager to keep the pressure on the visitor’s goal Baraclough made a couple of changes with Louis Moult making his first Fir Park appearance, replacing Fletcher, before Dom Thomas came on for Chalmers.
The substitutes soon made their presence felt and after a couple of shots from Thomas were blocked, Moult’s looping header beyond the back post forced Zwick to palm the ball over his bar.
Despite the probing runs from the wings via Thomas and Johnson, ‘Well couldn’t unlock the United defence and it looked like stalemate.
With 11 minutes remaining David Clarkson came off the bench as the fans acknowledged the striker’s second spell at Fir Park.
However, any thoughts of a hero’s return were erased as United stole the points with two late strikes.
And after Ripley reacted quickly to block Aidan Connolly’s thumping angled drive the ‘Well ‘keeper conceded his first goal of the season in the cruelest manner. Paul Dixon swept the ball across the face of the home goal where Laing’s swipe sent the ball racing past the helpless Ripley.
If ‘Well’s on loan ‘keeper was blameless at the first goal, he blotted his fine home debut with a yellow card after racing out of his box to obstruct Connolly.
Worse was to follow for Ripley and the ‘Well defence in injury time when the ‘keeper raced upfield for a Johnson corner and was then left stranded as United stormed to the other end allowing Murray to slam home a second goal, and scoreline which flattered United and was a bitter reflection on Motherwell’s contribution.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
FT’ | 0-2 | #MFCvDUFC
Motherwell 0 – 2 Dundee Utd
94′ | 0-2 | #MFCvDUFC
Goal, Utd counter with Ripley out his goals and Murray makes it 2-0.
93′ | 0-1 | #MFCvDUFC
91′ | 0-1 | #MFCvDUFC
Ripley booked as he raced off his line and nudged Connolly off the ball.
88′ | 0-1 | #MFCvDUFC
Hammell takes a booking, tugging Muirhead’s shirt as he broke away.
A real sore one as Motherwell have been well on top.
83′ | 0-1 | #MFCvDUFC
Goal – Laing slices a powerful low cross into his own net. 1-0 Utd.
81′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Connolly battles hard, wins the ball back in the “Well box and fires a shot at Ripley, who beats it away,
79′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Motherwell sub, Leitch makes way for Clarkson
78′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Utd sub, Erskine off for Murray.
73′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Dundee Utd sub, Bodul off for Connolly.
71′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Dundee Utd sub, Muirhead on for Telfer.
70′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Johnson delivers a deep corner which, from a narrow angle, Moult almost heads in! Good save by Zwick.
65′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
A second Motherwell sub, Dom Thomas on for Chalmers
64′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Leitch booked for a foul on Souttar.
61′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Motherwell sub, Fletcher hobbles off and is replaced by Moult.
58′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Another great chance! Law plays it into Chalmers 12 yards out but somehow Zwick does enough to force him to fire over!
58′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Johnson breaks away from his own half and finds himself 1v1 but Zwick denies him with his foot!
57′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Telfer goes through 1 on 1 but Ripley stands big and tall and makes the save with his face.
54′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Great ball over the top from Hammell but Zwick gets off this line quick and gets there ahead of Fletcher.
…but McDonald’s free-kick is straight into the wall.
52′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Johnson hacked down by Souttar in a great area…..
51′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Great ball in from Law to the head of Fletcher but he can’t quite get it right and the chance fades away.
49′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
‘Well counter-attack though Johnson but with better options, the goes for the long-range shot but it’s a routine save.
46′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Utd out the traps quickly as Telfer charges forward, but his shot from 20 yards is well over the bar.
45′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Utd get the second 45 underway.
HT | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Motherwell 0 – 0 Dundee Utd
41′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Again Ripley is called into action and again he is equal to it as Telfer gets a powerful shot away from long range.
38′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Ball appeared to strike Chalmers on the hand inside the box but thankfully Bobby Madden ruled it ball to hand…
35′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Free header there for Erskine but he couldn’t quite rise high enough to make contact. A let off.
33′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
What a save by Ripley! Dived high to his left to turn away Fraser’s (I think) shot form 20 yards. Brilliant!
27′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Game has became a bit of a midfield battle now, not a lot in the way of chances.
16′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Good effort from McDonald who turned 25 yards out and got a low shot away. Unlucky.
7′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Been a good start to the game from a Motherwell point of view. Plenty of balls in and around the box and positive play
3′ | 0-0 | #MFCvDUFC
Johnson drifts in-field, gets a bit of time on the ball and from 20 yards, forces Zwick into a good save.
Kick-off | #MFCvDUFC
Lasley and McDonald get the game underway. #COYW
Pre-match | #MFCvDUFC
Here we go, both sides out the tunnel to rapturous applause
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
Dundee Utd manager Jackie McNamara: