Motherwell progressed to the Semi Final of the Little Big Shot Youth Cup with a fine 0-1 win away to St Johnstone.
The Steelmen, who had already eliminated Partick Thistle, Stenhousemuir and Kilmarnock in the previous rounds, won it with a single goal five minutes before the interval; Ryan Watters poking home a Dom Thomas cross.
The second half belonged to Saints, who currently sit joint fourth in the SPFL Development League, but despite a lot of the ball and plenty of crosses into the area, they rarely troubled Brett Long in the visitor’s goal.
The win means Stephen Craigan’s side face a journey north to take on Ross County in the Semi Final, the winner of that taking their spot at the showpiece final at Hampden Park.
Former ‘Well skipper Craigan had a selection headache before the match with three of his most influential players missing. Ben Hall and Chris Cadden are now with the first-team squad and Allan Campbell, enjoying a terrific campaign in centre midfield, was suspended.
However, the Fir Parkers were able to call on the likes of Dom Thomas and on-loan Airdrie duo David Ferguson and Dylan Mackin.
The Lanarkshire side made a positive start, with Robbie Leitch posting early intentions with a low shot well held by Jordan Millar.
Then, six minutes later, Luke Watt stung the palms of the on-loan Montrose stopper with a free kick from distance that forced the keeper to palm away.
Saints eventually settled into things and had their first attempt after fourteen minutes, left-back Greg Page curling a free kick that forced Long to save.
Both teams had half chances as the half wore on; Kyle Lander flicked a header wide of target at one end, before David Turnbull’s shot from the edge of the area had to be deflected out for a corner.
Motherwell were gaining the upper hand as the match approached the break and almost took the lead after 37 minutes.
Leitch was sent scampering away, but with defenders breathing down his neck, he squared it for the supporting Dom Thomas. The winger lashed a shot, which was palmed out by Millar only for the Motherwell man to smash the rebound off the crossbar.
‘Well were proving more and more of a threat and with their next attack just three minutes later, they got their noses in front.
The goal was the creation of Thomas, who did superbly well to somehow wriggle clear from two defenders in the corner, skip past a third in the area before firing it low across goal for Ryan Watters who nipped between two defenders to prod home.
Just before the interval, ‘Well almost doubled their lead. Thomas was again involved, this time cutting in and shooting towards goal. On route, Dylan Mackin managed to flick it on, but sent his header spinning over the crossbar.
The second half was controlled by the home side, who tried hard to get back into the match.
They started with a long-range effort from Jason Kerr that bounced harmlessly through to Long. Motherwell’s reply, their only real effort of the second half, was a long-range hit from Ross MacLean, but it was easily held by Millar.
Most of the action was going at the Motherwell goal.
Lander turned Eoghan McCawl’s cross towards goal, but it was straight at Long who saved. Then, seven minutes later, Connor McLaren had an acrobatic effort from the edge of the box that again bounced harmlessly back to the Fir Park keeper.
Saints had a couple more half chancesin the closing stages, Hunter shot over and Greg Hurst hit the side net, but they weren’t able to get level, allowing ‘Well to progress.
Motherwell: Long, Ferguson, McMillan, Maguire, Watt, Turnbull, Watters (Hastie – 63mins), MacLean, Mackin, Thomas, R.Leitch (Livingstone – 90mins)
Subs Not Used: Morrison, Falconer, Moore