Motherwell under 20s returned to winning ways tonight with a 3-1 win over St Johnstone in the Development League.
A Jacob Blyth penalty, a Davie Turnbull strike and a Shea Gordon lob was enough for the Steelmen who looked comfortable as they picked up all three points at the Excelsior Stadium.
Jacob Blyth started his second match in a row for the under 20s, while Stephen Craigan also called upon the suspended Carl McHugh for his side’s third game in a week.
The visitors started positively and Oliver Pain had to be alert from the first whistle. A thumping effort from Michael Coulson from the edge of the area forced the keeper to turn the ball round his post with a terrific, diving save.
From the resulting corner, Smith got a strong header on target which beat Pain but was cleared off the line by Tom Fry.
Motherwell grew in to the game fairly quickly though and in the tenth minute had an effort of their own cleared off the line. Dylan Mackin and Jake Hastie linked up well down the left and a neat one-two released the latter into the box, but his stinging low ball across the face was hooked away from danger.
Shea Gordon found himself in an advanced position when Mackin’s header down fell neatly for the midfielder, but he took a fraction too long to adjust and his effort from six yards was blocked by Daniel Jardine.
The Steelmen passed up a terrific chance just a minute later when Blyth slipped in Hastie. The winger had support to his left in Davie Turnbull who, if he received it, would have been one-on-one, but the crucial pass was intercepted.
Just after the 20th minute, Motherwell took the lead from a penalty.
St Johnstone failed to clear a ball in to the box from the right and Blyth, who attempted to bring it down, tumbled to the deck after a blatant push. The forward stepped up and made no mistake from the spot, thundering his penalty past McKenzie.
The cliché “you’re most dangerous when you’ve just scored” was nearly summed up by the immediate chance for the visitors.
Racing forward from centre, George Hunter received the ball and struck a powerful effort on target, forcing a fantastic save from Pain to keep the Steelmen in front.
Motherwell dominated most of the ball from then on, but neither side created too many chances.
Blyth nodded a header on target but it didn’t have enough on it to beat McKenzie, while down the other end Coulson had an effort denied comfortably by Pain.
A neat through ball from Mackin towards the advancing Gordon nearly produced a fine ‘Well goal after 35 minutes, but the Saints keeper was quick off his line and smothered the danger.
The Northern Irishman did find the back of the net though in the second half, but not before Davie Turnbull doubled ‘Well’s lead.
Hastie slipped in the youngster down the right flank, he cut on to his left foot just inside the box and struck an unstoppable finish in to the top corner.
With the next chance, Motherwell had their third – and what a tremendous goal too.
A pinpoint ball over the top of the Saints defence left Gordon with just McKenzie to beat. He let the ball bounce once before lifting it over the keeper with the inside of his boot. Tremendous goal which involved just two touches.
St Johnstone responded immediately though, and it was a good goal for the visitors too. A deep cross in to the box found the full-back Smith, who rose high to head down past Pain.
Stephen Craigan made his first change just before the 70th minute, replacing Mackin with the pacey forward Alfie Agyeman. Saints followed suit immediately and brought off Coulson to bring on Jamie Docherty.
The game fizzled out somewhat after that, with neither side really testing either keeper.
Substitue Docherty should have reduced the deficit in the final seconds though, firing over from six yards. Maguire did enough to force him off balance and keep the two goal lead.
Motherwell: Pain, Fry, Livingstone, Maguire, Armstrong, McHugh, Blyth, Turnbull, Mackin (Agyeman ‘69), Hastie, Gordon
Unused subs: Pettigrew, Scott, Semple, McDonald