Motherwell U20s conceded late to lose 1-0 away to Kilmarnock in the Development League tonight.
A penalty from Killie defender Scott McLean in the 89th minute was enough to snatch the points during a fairly uneventful and even encounter at Rugby Park.
Stephen Craigan gave debuts to Oliver Pain and Shea Gordon in a line up that also featured the returning Stephen Pearson.
And the trio impressed in the opening half. Pain showed his ability with the ball at his feet as well as producing some comfortable stops too. Pearson displayed all of the traits he has become renowned for and it seems clear the midfielder will be up to full speed soon. Gordon, meanwhile, brought a drive to the centre of the pitch and complimented Allan Campbell well.
However, it took a while for the game to get going and it was the hosts who stumped up the first effort on goal after a quiet opening 15.
Full back Scott McLean intercepted a mishit clearance before unleashing a low drive on target, but Pain got his body behind it and then gathered at the second attempt.
Almost immediately up the other end of the pitch though, Pearson managed to drift in at the back post well, but his effort was a little mishit and didn’t trouble Curtis Lyle in the Kilmarnock goal.
Gordon, who was growing in to the match, made a clever dart through the heart of the park, and as the space opened up he played a neat through ball for the potential run of Scott – but the forward and the new arrival were on different pages and Lyle collected the loose ball.
The opening half seemed to just pass by with neither side creating much and both keepers producing routine saves.
But it was Gordon again who looked to create from midfield. The Northern Irish youngster drove through the middle, beat a couple of challenges and cut on to his right foot to fire low at goal – but Lyle gathered it.
The half came to an end with a brief flurry of shots from distance – including two from Turnbull. The first took a deflection and flashed wide and the second forced a routine stop from the Killie keeper.
But the biggest talking point was perhaps a decision from the officials. Fry, who burst forward from right back, forced his way in to the box but before he could get his shot off he tumbled to the deck and looked to have been tripped, but the match officials ignored the numerous calls and let play continue.
The second half started in a similar fashion to the first, however the Steelmen managed to get the ball in the back of the net, only to be denied by the linesman’s flag. A marauding run forward by centre back David Ferguson split the Killie team apart, he rolled a perfectly waited ball in to the Hastie who then squared to Scott to tap home, but Hastie was deemed to have strayed in to an offside position.
The half was failing to produce much more and Craigan decided to shuffle his pack in an attempt to find the breakthrough, replacing Pearson with prolific forward Dylan Mackin – who positioned himself alongside Scott up top.
Firmly on the front foot and hungry for the points, ‘Well pressed the hosts all over the park and Hastie found himself with a decent chance just after 60 minutes.
The winger stole the ball from McLean, burst forward but instead of rolling in one of his two supporting teammates the youngster had a pop at goal. It didn’t trouble Lyle much though and he pounced on top of it.
With time running out and the game in the balance, Craigan’s youngsters nearly took the lead through Turnbull and it would have been a tremendous goal too. Maguire pinged a delightful ball over the Killie defence in to the run of Hastie, who brought it down, teed up Turnbull but the midfielder slipped as he went to fire at goal from inside the box, and it flew well over.
The lively Killie full back McLean went close to grabbing the lead for his side with just minutes to go. He curled a terrific effort on goal from distance. With the ball destined for the top corner, Pain pulled off a stunning save to deny the young defender and keep his side level.
However, with just two minutes remaining in the match, the keeper was forced to rush for a short back pass and, with the odds against him, he tripped the advancing Killie attacker to give the home side a penalty in the dying stages.
McLean stepped up and made no mistake to snatch a late lead, and ultimately the three points too.