An inexperienced Motherwell Under 20s crashed to league-leaders Celtic at a wet and miserable Cappielow this afternoon.
The young Steelmen, who didn’t field a single overage player and even had fifteen-year old James Scott on the pitch for forty-five minutes, took on the unbeaten Celtic who could call on the likes of former England striker Carlton Cole and £12-million pound Manchester City winger Patrick Roberts.
With the rain lashing down, Regan Hendry fired the hosts in front after ten minutes, but a brave ‘Well more than held their own in a game played at a furious pace.
However, with the youngster tiring after the third game in seven days, Celtic added another three after the break with Hendy grabbing another, a Jack McMillan own goal and a late strike from Roberts on his first appearance.
It was a competitive opening to the game, with Motherwell content to make their mark with a couple of physical challenges. However, the hosts were soon in front and the on-loan City man was involved, cutting in from the left before teeing up Hendry who fired low into the bottom corner from 25-yards.
To their credit, the Steelmen regrouped and started to put their foot on the ball. A well-worked corner allowed Luke Watt to fire a shot at goal, but Conor Hazard in the home goal was more than equal.
Shortly after, a slack pass from Roberts almost had Ryan Watters in on goal, but he could only flight an effort narrowly over the bar.
At the other end, Celtic again went close when a positive run and shot from McMullan had Brett Long scrambling, but thankfully it went inches over the bar.
Motherwell’s best chance of the half came with nine minutes left to the interval. Robbie Leitch’s cross from the left pin-balled about the area before landing at the feet of Jake Hastie, but he could only drag a low shot just off target.
Stephen Craigan’s side made a positive start to the second period and only a terrific save from Hazard denied Watt from distance, with Jamie McCart on hand to hook away the rebound with Ross MacLean waiting to pounce.
It was to prove a vital stop as with their next attack, Celtic got a vital second, which all but secured the game.
Hendry flicked the ball into the path of Roberts, but the recovering Jack McMillan managed to stop him in his tracks. Unluckily for ‘Well, the ball broke loose and as Barry Maguire slipped as he attempted block, allowing Hendry to lash it high into the net.
Celtic soon added a third, Roberts exploiting space on the right flank before his low ball across the face was turned into his own net by the unfortunate McMillan, who was trying to knock it behind or a corner.
The home side had their tails up and sub Mark Hill almost added another but was thwarted by Long, who saved his low shot well with his feet.
Aidan McIlduff had the ball in the net but had it disallowed by an assistant’s flag. The same player went close again shortly after, but fired it over the bar.
As the game looked to be heading for a conclusion, Celtic added a fourth with virtually the last kick of the match. Hendry and Roberts combined again, and after a neat back flick, the nineteen-year old winger curled a strike past Long and into the corner.
Motherwell: Long, McMillan, Livingstone, Maguire, Watt, Campbell, Watters, R. Leitch (J.Moore – 89mins), Falconer (Scott – 46mins), Hastie (Turnbull – 68mins), MacLean
Subs Not Used: Morrison, Leighton