Motherwell progressed to the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup for a second consecutive season thanks to a convincing 1-0 win over Livingston.
Danny Johnson’s first half strike was enough for ‘Well to overcome Kenny Miller’s men at the Tony Macaroni Arena, on a wet Saturday afternoon.
Manager Stephen Robinson fielded Gaël Bigirimana and Alex Rodríguez Gorrín alongside Andy Rose in the middle of the park, and the travelling Steelmen certainly produced an assured performance from start to finish.
With a quarter final place at stake, both teams made it an explosive start, with the goal frame being rattled at both ends within the opening minutes.
Hardly a minute had passed when former ‘Well player Steven Lawless unleashed a terrific volley from 20 yards which hammered off the face of the crossbar, much to the relief of Trevor Carson.
The Fir Park ‘keeper then responded smartly to turn a dipping shot from Kenny Miller over the bar.
In a hectic start and having already forced a save from Liam Kelly, Johnson latched onto Gorrín’s through ball before smashing a left foot shot off the ‘keeper’s right hand post.
The pace of the game was slick on Livi’s new plastic pitch. And when Frear slipped his marker on the left of the box, his inviting cross into the centre was perfect for Richard Tait. His powerful header looked like opening the scoring, until Kelly reacted to make a stunning stop.
At this stage ‘Well began to look more menacing and after 22 minutes broke the deadlock.
Livingston lost possession at the corner of their box and Main made the most of it heading for the goal line before cutting the ball back into the path of Johnson, who swept it low past Kelly to make it 1-0.
That goal injected some confidence into ‘Well’s play with Bigirimana controlling the midfield and supplying numerous telling passes the visitors were on the front foot.
A defence splitting pass from Bigirimana sent Johnson through and his drive across goal found Main, but his effort was blocked. From the resultant corner, Carl McHugh’s downward header was netbound until Kelly once again made a stunning save.
Two minutes from the interval, the Livi ‘keeper produced another incredible stop, somehow twisting to deny Main’s from forcing Frear’s low cross over the line from a couple of yards.
Not surprisingly the second failed to match the energy and excitement of the first 45. With the play largely confined to the middle of the park, ‘Well made a change in that area after 61 minutes with Campbell replacing Gorrín.
And it was almost a perfect substitution when, four minutes later, Campbell wriggled clear at the corner of the box before firing a low drive across Kelly, only to see the ball rebound from the ‘keeper’s right hand post.
A second substitution followed when Aaron Taylor-Sinclair replaced Peter Hartley, allowing ‘Well to go to a back four in front of Carson. Fifteen minutes from time, the Fir Park boss made the final change sending on Sammon for Johnson.
Five minutes later, the Steelmen had the chance kill off the home side. Bigirimana once again remained calm in possession and from a Livi corner he sent Frear racing to the other end, only to find his finishing drive blocked at the edge of the box.
In the end, though, Motherwell comfortably held on to Johnson’s first half goal to see them into the last eight.