Phil McGhee at Fir Park
A heroic and exhausting week for Motherwell finally took its toll, as a first half goal from Martin Boyle was enough to earn Hibs three points from what was a rather uninspiring game.
With too many players in claret and amber having an off day at Fir Park, ‘Well failed to respond after a poor first half.
And even the introduction of three substitutes early in the second half, a change of shape and a more positive second 45 minutes, failed to give ‘Well a route back in to the encounter as both ‘keepers enjoyed a quiet afternoon.
Elliot Frear kept his spot in the team to take up his wide left berth but he and his teammates failed to a make an impression in a first half where ‘Well toiled to match a determined Hibs.
Similar to their opening 30 minutes in the cup semi final, Motherwell looked sluggish and intent on playing a long ball and too easily conceding possession to the opposition.
There was an early warning after 19 minutes when Boyle was allowed to break down the right but his powerful angled drive found Trevor Carson standing strong to chest the ball behind.
However, unlike the previous week, Motherwell’s opponents made the most of their advantage, taking the lead after 27 minutes.
Marvin Bartley’s hopeful ball towards the ‘Well goal caught out Cédric Kipré, allowing Boyle to nip in behind him, round the advancing Carson before rolling the ball into the net for the lead.
With John McGinn dominating the middle of the park, Neil Lennon’s men looked the more likely to add to their score and a burst from the Hibs’ midfield man ended with a 20-yard shot straight at Carson.
Towards the end of a scrappy half, the Fir Park side almost nicked an equaliser. Ryan Bowman and Carl McHugh combined at the edge of the box to set up Allan Campbell but his effort from 20-yards curled just outside the post.
It was anticipated that the ‘Well players would once again raise their game for the second half and Stephen Robinson made his intentions clear with a double substitution, bringing on Gaël Bigirimana and Craig Tanner, in an attempt to control the middle of the park.
And within five minutes, Bigirimana forced the first save from Ofir Marciano, but his 25-yard drive was comfortably held by the Hibs’ ‘keeper.
That aside, though, the Edinburgh side were sitting comfortably on their lead. In a further attempt to change the pattern of play, Deimantas Petravičius came on to make hIs first team debut, with the Lithuanian striker given over 30 minutes to make an impression.
Almost immediately, an in swinging free kick from Tanner just evaded the heads of Petravičius and Peter Hartley inside the six yard box. For a short spell, ‘Well then put some pressure on the visitor’s goal.
The Lithuanian internationalist came within a foot of the equaliser. Bigirimana’s terrific pass released Chris Cadden wide on the right and when his low ball across the face of goal found Petravičius he seemed certain to claim his first goal until his shot was blocked on the line by Steven Whittaker.
Charles Dunne did have the ball in the net but Hartley’s touch played the defender offside.
As the game entered the last 15 minutes there was a lot more urgency to ‘Well’s play. And with three strikers on the pitch they looked more threatening but ultimately lacked that decisive edge and the Steelmen slumped to only their fourth defeat of the season.
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 0 – 1 Hibernian
There will be three minutes added on.
88′ | 0-1
Cadden forces a Motherwell corner. Delivered to the back post but headed clear
85′ | 0-1
Hibs sub, Matulevicius on for Boyle.
76′ | 0-1
Chace for Shaw but Hartley makes a great block to put it wide for a corner.
72′ | 0-1
Close! Hartley pulls the ball down in the box and lays it off to Dunne who has the ball in the net but it’s ruled out for offside
70′ | 0-1
What a chance as Cadden slides a low ball across goal and somehow Whittaker block Petravicius’ shot at the back post!
68′ | 0-1
Hibs sub, Shaw on for Murray
66′ | 0-1
Good chance for Barker as he races through on goal but makes a hash of the finish, firing well over the bar.
…..Tanner fizzes the free-kick across the face of goal but no takers!
60′ | 0-1
Free-kick to Motherwell just outside the box on the right hand side.
58′ | 0-1
Murray has the ball in the net but the linesman’s flag was up before he finished.
53′ | 0-1
Motherwell make their final change, Petravicius makes his debut, on for Rose
49′ | 0-1
Bigirimana tries his luck from distance but his powerful shot is straight at Marciano
And we’re back underway here at Fir Park. COYW!!
Double sub for ‘Well at the break, Bigirimana and Tanner on for Frear and McHugh.
HT: Motherwell 0 – 1 Hibernian
43′ | 0-1
Great effort from Campbell, collecting the ball from Moult and curling a shot just wide from 25 yards!
33′ | 0-1
McGinn drives forward and stings the palms of Carson with a good effort from 25 yards.
27′ | 0-1
Goal – Hibs take the lead through Boyle who burst through on goal and touched it past Carson to slide into the empty net
22′ | 0-0
Decent breakaway there but Cadden’s final ball is too deep and goes out for a goal kick
19′ | 0-0
Decent chance for Boyle as he latches on to a through ball but Carson stands tall and makes a fine save to deny him.
16′ | 0-0
Free-kick to Hibs midway inside the Motherwell half as Hartley fouls Stevenson. Hooked in deep and headed wide at the back post.
14′ | 0-0
A decent midfield tussle so far but little in the way of chances to mention
1′ | 0-0
Early sniff of goal there as Cadden gets down the right but his cross is too close to Marciano who gathers.
Andy Rose gets the action underway. COYW!!!
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:
Hibernian manager Neil Lennon