A dramatic 3-2 extra-time victory away to Ross County secured Motherwell’s progression to the quarter final of the Betfred Cup.
A composed finish from youngster Ross MacLean avoided penalties and sent the travelling ‘Well support in to party mode at the Global Energy Stadium in Dingwall.
‘Well manager Stephen Robinson made just one change to the side that lost 2-1 to Rangers at the weekend, with Gaël Bigirimana returning to the side in the place of injured Elliott Frear.
And the hosts were forced in to an early change to an unaltered starting line up when Tim Chow was replaced by ex-Well man Jim O’Brien after just 12 minutes.
In a fairly uneventful first half, Carl McHugh saw his long range effort fizz narrowly over the bar whilst Trevor Carson produced a stunning save from close range to deny Alex Schalk a certain goal just before the break.
The remainder of the game was a different story for both sides though, as the game sparked in to life.
Just five minutes in to the second 45, a well worked move resulted in the opening goal and the first out of three occasions Motherwell took the lead.
Chris Cadden, bursting magnificently down the right flank, whipped in a stunning ball which Louis Moult nodded down for Bigirimana to lash home with venom from ten-yards.
On the hour mark, a potentially game defining moment unfolded as substitute Alex Fisher saw his close range effort slice narrowly passed the post, which, had it gone in, may have wrapped up the tie.
A few minutes later down the other end though, Ross County drew level.
Stealing the ball inside the centre circle, O’Brien fed a lovely ball through for Schalk who breached the ‘Well back four and coolly dinked the onrushing Carson.
With five minutes remaining and extra time just around the corner, Robinson made the bold decision to remove Moult and goal-scorer Bigirimana in place of Ryan Bowman and Ross MacLean.
And after successfully defending a few late County set-pieces, the game headed in to extra time.
But what a start to extra time the Steelmen made.
Within the first two minutes, Cadden re-established the lead when he tapped home at the back post from close range after Ryan Bowman saw his header crash back off the bar.
It looked as though it may have been plain sailing for the Steelmen until the final minute of the first half of extra time when County looked set to level the scoring before Dunne bundled the ball away – being deemed to have fouled in the process. The defender was given his marching orders as Stephen Finnie pointed to the spot.
Substitute Craig Curran sent Carson the wrong way to drag the hosts back in to the game with just the second half of extra time remaining.
With ten men and the momentum firmly with the Staggies, it looked like Motherwell were heading for a crushing defeat in the Highlands.
Substitute MacLean had other plans though, and in the 112th minute, carved out the game defining moment.
Latching on to a perfectly threaded pass from the ever-impressive Cedric Kipré, the young midfielder kept his composure to round Scott Fox and slot the ball home before wheeling away and celebrating with the travelling support.
The tie was not wrapped up though and Carson produced an equally important moment with two minutes left, lurching down to his right to get an incredibly strong hand to a powerful effort on goal to keep the Steelmen in front and secure progression – with Aberdeen at Fir Park awaiting in the quarter final!
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Global Energy Stadium
FT’ | 2-3
10 man Motherwell deservedly through to the next round to play Aberdeen. COYW!!!!!!
ET 30′ | 2-3
County have a corner as we go into 1 minute added on
ET 28′ | 2-3
WHAT A SAVE!!! Trevor Carson with an unbelievable close-range save!!!
ET 22′ | 2-3
MacLEAN puts the Steelmen back in front!! Looked offside from Kipré’s pass but keeps his cool and rounds the ‘keeper!!
ET 15′ | 2-2
County get the final 15 underway.
ET HT’ | 2-2
First half of extra time ends 2-2
ET 15′ | 2-2
Motherwell sub, Plummer makes his debut for Rose
ET 14′ | 2-2
Goal – Curran converts from the penalty spot.
ET 13′ | 1-2
Penalty to County and Dunne ordered off!!
ET 10′ | 1-2
And another County sub, Mikkelsen on for Schalk
ET 8′ | 1-2
Schalk fires just past the post from a low cross as County bring on Keillor-Dunn for Routis
ET 4′ | 1-2
Good chance for Davies but his diving header flies inches over the bar!
ET 3′ | 1-2
Fisher’s cross is headered off the bar then powered in by CADDEN!!!! COYW!!!
ET 1′ | 1-1
Motherwell get the first half of extra-time underway. COYW!!!
The game will now go into extra-time and, if needed, penalties.
FT: Ross County 1 – 1 Motherwell
90+2′ | 1-1
MacLean booked and County will now have free-kick wide on their right.
90+1′ | 1-1
Corner to Motherwell…..County finally get is clear after it bounces around the box
Three minutes added on
89′ | 1-1
Bowman curls in a cross with his left foot but Rose can’t get enough on it and its out for a goal kick
86′ | 1-1
Naismith drills a shot through a ruck of bodies and thankfully it goes through them all and wide of the post.
84′ | 1-1
Double Motherwell sub, Bowman and MacLean on for Moult and Bigirimana
82′ | 1-1
Chance for Rose but looks a bit off balance and skews it wide of the post.
81′ | 1-1
Nice bit of play from County ends with Schalk spectacularly volleying wide of the post.
79′ | 1-1
So unlucky! FIsher’s header from a corner is cleared off the line by Fraser!!
78′ | 1-1
Ball falls to Moult after a good move down the right but Davies does superbly and throws himself in front of the goalbound shot
75′ | 1-1
Moult booked. Not really sure why as Fraser goes down in the box.
70′ | 1-1
County sub, Dow off for Curran
69′ | 1-1
Dow booked for a challenge on Cadden on the edge of the box.
64′ | 1-1
Goal – County back on level terms through Schalk who bursts clear and cooly finishes past Carson.
59′ | 0-1
What a chance for Fisher! Ball falls kindly for him inside the box but on the spin he hooks it just wide.
57′ | 0-1
Great chance for Schalk. Gardyne’s ball in is knocked across goal by Davies but the striker puts it over the bar from 6 yards.
56′ | 0-1
Motherwell sub, Tanner off for Fisher
The big man is fine to continue
53′ | 0-1
Dunne is down receiving treatment. Brave clearing header at the backpost but take a knock.
51′ | 0-1
Cadden does magnificently down the right, clips in a great ball to Moult who nods it down to BIGIRIMANA who fires it home!!!
Second half is underway. COYW!!
HT: Ross County 0 – 0 Motherwell
…Moult wins the header at the back post but from a narrow angle can’t get it on target.
45′ | 0-0
Two minutes added on as the Steelmen have a corner….
44′ | 0-0
‘Well have a free-kick wide on the left. Swung in by Cadden….plucked out the air by Fox.
42′ | 0-0
What a save! Lindsay with a low ball in, Schalk diverts it goalwards but Carson gets a foot on it and puts it wide!!
39′ | 0-0
Good chance there for County. Routis header down to Lindsay but he fires over the bar!
32′ | 0-0
Corner straight off the training ground: Bigirimana to Moult who scoops his shot over the bar from 12 yards
18′ | 0-0
Looked promising there as Moult flicked it on to Tanner but his ball over the top can’t find Cadden on the break.
15′ | 0-0
Cadden’s ball inside is knocked on by Rose into the path of McHugh who fires inches over the bar from range
12′ | 0-0
County forced into an early change, Chow clashes heads and is replaced by O’Brien
11′ | 0-0
Great last-ditch tackle by Fraser to deny Tanner who was superbly played in by McHugh.
7′ | 0-0
Great ball wide by Moult finds Cadden and his cross is knocked out for a corner. ‘Well can’t capitalise from the corner though.
5′ | 0-0
‘Well have a free-kick in a central area, clipped in by Tanner but Moult can’t direct it on target.
County get the game underway. COYW!!!
Out come the two teams, claret and amber for the Steelmen, navy blue for the Staggies.
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre