Motherwell under-20s returned to winning ways with a convincing 3-0 win over Hearts tonight.
An early Jordan Armstrong header was followed up by a second half brace from Shea Gordon as the Steelmen dominated and deserved their win in the Development League fixture against the Edinburgh outfit.
Manager Stephen Craigan called on senior players Jacob Blyth, Lionel Ainsworth and Russell Griffiths for the clash at Ochilview Park – whilst giving the ever-present Barry Maguire and Tom Fry a rest.
And it was nearly Blyth who made the difference in the 12th minute – leaping high to get his head on Jake Hastie’s looping cross, only to be denied by a superb save from Hearts stopper Paul Gallacher.
The keeper could only push it over the bar though and from the corner that followed, Hearts were punished.
Ainsworth delivered a pinpoint cross to the free head of Jordan Armstrong who made no mistake from six yards to give the Steelmen an early lead.
Despite dropping to the bench, Maguire didn’t get the rest he might have been expecting. The young centre-back was thrown in to the action in the 20th minute when Craigan was forced to bring off Luke Watt due to a tight hamstring.
It took the hosts 35 minutes to register their first attempt on goal, and in truth the Steelmen were never in trouble.
Callumn Morrison, 25 yards out, struck a powerful effort on goal but it soared comfortably over Griffiths’ crossbar.
It summed up the first half for the home side, who barely troubled Motherwell and were lucky to be only one down going in to the break.
The visiting ‘Well youngsters looked set to double their lead just five minutes in to the second half after Gallacher spilled Turnbull’s powerful low effort to the feet of the advancing Shea Gordon, but the linesman’s flag denied the midfielder from tapping home.
Zidan Akers cut inside from the left flank just before the hour mark, but the Hearts man dragged his effort wide of the near post and Griffiths remained untested.
Shortly after the hour mark, Motherwell doubled their advantage and it was a terrific goal too. A long ball was flicked on brilliantly by Blyth in to the run of Hastie and the winger, unselfishly, cut back for Gordon who stepped on to the pass to slide home and double the Fir Parkers lead.
Just over five minutes later, Motherwell had three and it was a terrific goal too.
Adam Livingstone’s deep cross was tucked away superbly by Gordon for his second goal of the night. The midfielder struck a side-footed volley back across goal and beyond the helpless Gallacher.
Substitute James Scott, who replaced Blyth, skipped past his marker down the right flank but but overcooked his cross under little pressure as the game wound down.
Craigan’s men held on to their clean sheet on a night when they were dominant and well worth all three points at a rain soaked Ochilview Park.
Motherwell U20s: Griffiths, McMillan, Livingstone, Watt (Maguire ’20), Armstrong, Campbell, Ainsworth (Fry ’67), Turnbull, Blyth (Scott ’74), Hastie, Gordon
Unused subs: Pain, Agyeman