Phil McGhee Fir Park
Motherwell came from behind to make it four wins out of five and climb into the top six after an important 2-1 win over Dundee United.
After falling behind to a strike from former ‘Well man Henri Anier, the Steelmen came battling back in a bruising encounter and an equaliser from Marvin Johnson just before half-time set up the home side to dominate the second forty five.
And although only Louis Moult’s 17th goal of the season separated the sides, it was enough to haul ‘Well eighteen points ahead of the Tannadice club.
Last week’s goal hero Loius Laing was missing with a groin strain as Josh Law returned to fullback in an otherwise unchanged ‘Well.
Looking for a third consecutive win and three points which would increase the gap over United, Mark McGhee’s men started in a determined fashion and should have been in front after only four minutes.
Chris Cadden, at the second attempt, crossed low from the right and Scott McDonald’s touch looked to have sent the ball over the line until Michal Szrimnik somehow hauled the ball back.
United’s third choice ’keeper then had a few nervous moments as he failed to hold shots from Johnston and McDonald.
At the other end Connor Ripley smartly blocked a back post header from Anier although the Estonian was offside.
After 22 minutes the former ‘Well striker was marginally onside at the edge of the box when he collected a pass from Paul Dixon before lashing a left foot drive high beyond Ripley to put the Taysider’s ahead.
That goal dented the home side’s confidence and as their play became disjointed United created a couple of more openings.
Dixon, who was finding too much space on the left, cut inside and his right foot drive was well blocked by Ripley before the ‘Well ‘keeper, at full stretch, pushed away a low angled shot from Billy McKay.
Morgaro Gomis, who replaced Stephen Pearson after 34 minutes, sent Johnson in behind the visitor’s defence but after some trickery created space he shot tamely into the side netting.
Just when it looked like ‘Well we’re heading up the tunnel a goal behind at the end of a poor first half they conjured up an equaliser. Law floated his free kick into a packed penalty box and Johnson’s back header carried the ball over the ‘keeper and under the crossbar to level the scores.
That goal revitalised the Steelmen and they pressed the United from the restart. A couple of teasing crosses flashed across Szromnik’s goal before the ‘keeper dived to push away Johnson’s cross as Moult waited.
Johnson, using his pace and strength through the middle, was proving a real handful for United and a quick change of feet opened up the visitors only to see his chipped effort deflect off Morris and onto the crossbar.
After 62 minutes ‘Well were forced into another change when Morris’ thudding tackle left Keith Lasley limping off to be replaced by Dom Thomas. His immediate contribution was a cut back for Johnson who couldn’t turn to get a shot on goal.
However, a couple of minutes later the pair combined as ‘Well deservedly took the lead with the eventual winner.
Thomas started the exchange of passes with McDonald who sent Johnson to the goal line and his driven ball across goal found the unmarked Moult who stroked home his 17th goal of the season.
As United tried to find a way back into the game, ‘Well exposed gaps at the back and should have extended their lead. Moult released Cadden who watched his low drive palmed away by Szromnik.
After that apart from hefty challenges goalmouth incidents were rare until the closing minutes.
Moult was again the link sending Thomas down the left and his cross was perfect for the waiting Johnson until the United ‘keeper raced from his line and beat the ball away.
As the game entered the additional five minutes and ‘Well fans dreading another late blow, the home side comfortably defended their advantage.
In fact the only threat on goal came at the other end when Johnson once agin cut through the Taysider’s bedraggled defence before his low measured finish was deflected beyond the ‘keeper and his post.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
Get in Motherwell!!
94′ | 2-1
Johnson breaks away, cuts inside and sees his shot deflect wide for a corner.
93′ | 2-1
Paton booked for pulling McDonald back then taking a swipe at him with his foot.
90′ | 2-1
Five minutes added on.
87′ | 2-1
Moult bursts away down the left and curls in a cross towards Johnson but Szromnik gets first to it again.
86′ | 2-1
Motherwell sub, Kennedy on for Law.
84′ | 2-1
Corner to Utd…….claimed well by Ripley.
MATCH ATTAX | Young ‘Well fans can vote for their Man of the Match now. Tweet their name, age, selection with #MatchAttaxMOTM.
75′ | 2-1
Double Utd sub, Ofere and Fraser on for McKay and Dow
65′ | 2-1
Morris wrestles Cadden to the deck and receives a booking.
71′ | 2-1
Very very close looking offside call there are Thomas burst through on goal!
67′ | 2-1
Counter attack from ‘Well as Moult breaks away inside his own half. He threads it to Cadden who shoots but Szromnik makes the stop
65′ | 2-1
It’s that man @louismoult who pokes home Johnson’s delightful low cross! Come on!
65′ | 1-1
Close! Thomas jinks away from Donaldson but Gunning recovers and clears his low delivery
60′ | 1-1
Two subs then,
Utd sub: Durnan on for Morris
‘Well sub: Lasley off for Thomas
59′ | 1-1
Stoppage in play as Lasley and Morris receive treatment after a full blooded challenge from the Utd man.
55′ | 1-1
Off the bar! Johnson’s shot from outside the box takes a deflection and goes out off the woodwork!
54′ | 1-1
….Spittal fires straight into the wall and Hammell clears.
53′ | 1-1
Free-kick in a very dangerous area for Utd…..
52′ | 1-1
Great play again from Johnson but Szromnik gets enough on the low cross to divert it away from the waiting McDonald
49′ | 1-1
Cadden’s cross from the right loops just over the Utd bar.
Motherwell get the second 45 underway. COYW!!!!
HT: Motherwell 1 – 1 Dundee Utd
45′ | 1-1
Johnson gets the vital header on Law’s clipped free-kick!! 1-1!
43′ | 0-1
Ball over the top finds McKay who volleys low at goal. Ripley is equal to it and puts it wide for a corner.
41′ | 0-1
Lovely footwork from Johnson gets him into the box but he scuffs the ball wide of the post. Gunning then booked for time-wasting
34′ | 0-1
Motherwell sub, Pearson makes way for Gomis.
31′ | 0-1
Dixon cuts inside on his right foot and forces Ripley into a good save, diving low to his left.
22′ | 0-1
Goal – Anier lashes a shot into the top corner from 20 yards. 1-0 to Utd
19′ | 0-0
Motherwell corner….headed wide for another. From that delivery, Moult is judged to have fouled his man.
16′ | 0-0
Law’s free-kick is headed wide for a corner….delivery falls to Johnson but he blazes it well over the bar!
15′ | 0-0
Johnson with a stinging low shot from 20 yard. On this slippy surface, well worth an effort but Szormnik gathers.
14′ | 0-0
Now it’s Utd’s turn to have the ball in the net but again the flag is up, this time for Anier.
11′ | 0-0
Close! Johnson’s powerful low shot is palmed out to McDonald but the Aussie is ruled to be offside.
9′ | 0-0
Good chance for Utd again as the ball is played wide to Dixon inside the box but gets his footing wrong and fires wide.
4′ | 0-0
Great chance there for McDonald about 2 yards out. Szormnik gets a hand on it and somehow it doesn’t go in?! Looked over?
1′ | 0-0
Fast start for Utd who have a chance in the 1st minute. Ball falls to Rankin inside the box but he slices into the sidenetting.
Utd kick the game off. COYW!!!!
Both sides come out the tunnel, home kit for ‘Well and Utd are in white and black. #MFCvDUFC
Motherwell manager Mark McGhee:
“We might be back out the top six tomorrow, but more importantly it puts three more points between us the team sitting second bottom,” he added.
“In the first half, we were very fortunate to go in level. I thought we were really poor.
“We didn’t work anywhere as hard as we have been and certainly we didn’t work as hard as we did in the second half.
“But the fact is we did get the equaliser fortunately and it gave us the platform to sort out a few things at half time and work harder in the second half.
“We certainly did that. They put in a tremendous amount of work in the second half and, in the end, thoroughly deserved to win the game.”
Dundee Utd Manager Mixu Paatelainen
“We always knew their pace up front was going to give us a real test and it did. They have pacey players and very direct players and they used it well.
“But to lose the goal at the end of the first half the manner we did… Was it a free-kick? It’s questionable. That is a big blow. But we defended softly, we should have been earlier up there to head the ball away.
“First half we looked very bright and created loads of openings and looked pretty comfortable. Obviously goals change games and how players feel, and losing the goal so late was a big blow.
“But the way we performed first half, we should have done that second half as well and worried them. But we didn’t.”