Motherwell U20s returned to Development League action with a comfortable 3-0 win over Dundee United at Station Park in Forfar.
Late goals from Lee Lucas and Dylan Falconer rounded off a strong showing from the youngsters after trialist gave Craigan’s side a first half lead.
And the 20s coach named four changes to the side which won 4-3 at Partick on Sunday, bringing in David Ferguson, Lee Lucas, Tom Fry and a trialist in place of Jack McMillan, Allan Campbell, Ross MacLean and Dylan Falconer respectively.
It was a relatively quiet opening ten minutes, with United’s Smith having the first notable chance when he struck a freekick narrowly over the crossbar.
That seemed to spur the Fir Parkers into life and immediately down the other end Davie Turnbull saw his deflected effort blocked on to the post after a terrific bit of skill and work by the trialist on the right flank.
And he was lively throughout the first half, heading narrowly wide of the United goal when he swapped roles with Turnbull and this time got his head on the end of the midfielders cross.
A cheap freekick from a Dundee United perspective nearly led to the opening goal. Fry positioned himself over the ball and curled a terrific effort from 25-yards, but United stopper Josh Donaldson was well positioned and saved fairly comfortably.
Five minutes later though and Motherwell’s trialist gave Craigan’s side the lead in the 32nd minute. It came from a stunning through ball from Turnbull which the winger managed to latch on to the end of by beating the offside trap and, first time, struck a left footed shot low and hard past Donaldson.
The home side were limited to efforts from set pieces and Ali Coote was the next one up to try his luck, but he blazed it well over Jordan Pettigrew’s crossbar.
Just a minute before the break, it looked as though ‘Well would double their lead when Jake Hastie smashed a dangerous low ball across the face of goal after he was played in down the left thanks to Mackin’s hold up play. The wingers cross was just a yard too far for Fry to stretch and prod home and it remained 1-0 as the half time whistle was blown.
Right at the start of the second half, Hastie tore down the left flank and cause the Dundee United defence all sorts of problems. Racing in to the box, the winger fired a low strike at goal but, from a tight angle, it didn’t trouble Donaldson too much and he gathered it well.
The match quietened down in the 15 minutes that followed that chance, but when United were a little slack in possession in the 62nd minute, Luke Watt, advancing from right back, did well to nick the ball deep in the opposition half. Graham Taylor was left no option and hacked down the defender, and had no arguments when he was shown a yellow card.
From the following freekick, Hastie wasted the chance and overhit his cross wildly out for a goalkick.
Taylor went in a little strong on Watt as the defender beat him to a challenge at the half way line, but the referee ignored calls for a second yellow. Watt then looked up and delivered a neat cross with the outside of his right boot towards the head of Mackin. The tall striker, who was stretching to reach the ball, couldn’t get enough on his header and it went wide of the mark.
It was the forwards last bit of action as he was replaced by James Scott with 20 minutes remaining in the match. Hastie also left the field of play to be replaced by Dylan Falconer.
The hosts were continually frustrated by a resolute ‘Well defence, and substitute Dominic McMeekin attempted a spectacular overhead kick when the ball set up for him from a dinked ball over the top, but it was wasteful and well off target.
They were made to pay for their lack of cutting edge when Craigan’s youngsters doubled their lead with just four minutes left on the clock. The ball fell nicely for Lucas on the edge of the United box and the Welshman struck it low and hard and, thanks to a deflection, it flew past Donaldson.
Less than a minute later, substitute Falconer got on the scoresheet when his scuffed shot sat up nicely for him to then thunder in to the top corner at the second attempt.
It rounded off the afternoon and sealed the points as Craigan’s youngsters capped off a good week with another win and yet again lots of goals.
Motherwell: Pettigrew, Watt, Livingston, Maguire, Ferguson, Lucas, Fry, Turnbull, Hastie (Falconer ’70), Mackin (Scott ’70), Trialist