Motherwell’s Colts progressed to the second round of the Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer Cup with a 1-0 win over Lowland League side Spartans.
Jamie Semple’s first half strike was the difference for Maurice Ross’ side, who progress to play Clyde at Broadwood next Tuesday.
A youthful Motherwell side benefitted from the first team experience of David Devine and Semple, while PJ Morrison also started in goal in his first competitive appearance since an impressive loan spell at Albion Rovers last term.
After the early exchanges, the youngsters started to put their foot on the ball and patiently build from the back, looking to spring an attack.
Their reward came after just 17 minutes. Devine’s ball from deep into the six-yard box was met at the left and back post by the onrushing Semple.
Taking the ball out of the air he made a stab at goal, only for the goalkeeper to block. In a flash, the ball was spilled back at his feet, allowing him to take a touch and then lift the ball into the roof of the net from point blank range.
Motherwell could have went two up when debutant Ross MacIver’s first half effort was cleared off the line, and Spartans showed late attacking promise as the 45 wore on.
The second half saw both sides struggle to create chances, with the hosts retaining the majority of the possession.
See the best of the action as Motherwell open the Premiership season with a point gained at Livingston.
Manager: We need to be braver on the ball
Saturday 03 August 2019
“We will take a point. We defended well but we weren’t brave enough in possession.”
Stephen Robinson reflects on a point gained in a 0-0 opening day draw at Livingston.
Motherwell start league season with a draw
Saturday 03 August 2019
Motherwell emerged from a very physical encounter at the Tony Macaroni Arena with their first point of the season.
It was a hard shift for the Steelmen as Mark Gillespie extended his shut outs to five games.
Motherwell kicked off the new Ladbrokes Premiership season where they signed off – facing Livingston.
However, only five players which started against Livi back in May made Stephen Robinson’s starting team. That made way for five of the summer signing to make their league debut, with Declan Gallagher returning to his former ground.
The first cheer from the 1400 ‘Well fans crowded in the away stand was for the appearance of David Turnbull, making his way on crutches to join the Fir Park contingent.
On a perfect summer’s day for football, ‘Well kicked off the new campaign in their all white strip. Things looked promising as the Steelmen were on the front foot from the start.
However, despite some long diagonal passes from Charles Dunne picking out Christian Ilic’s and Richard Tait’s runs on the right and James Scott pressing through the middle, finding a route to Ross Stewart’s goal was proving difficult.
Although the artificial surface was perfect for keeping the ball on the deck the first half was littered with a series of aerial challenges, with Ilic collecting a booking after a couple of midfield tussles.
The home side fared no better in its attempts to test Mark Gillespie’s goal.
It was fully 30 minutes before the first shot at goal arrived – and even then Keaghan Jacobs dragged his drive wide of goal.
Thankfully the action around both goals picked up in the 10 minutes before half time.
Jermaine Hylton’s quick feet and smart pass found Ilic; who turned inside before testing the ‘keeper with a low left foot shot.
A minute later Stewart had a more impressive stop beating away Jake Carroll’s thumping drive from a tight angle.
It was finally Gillespie’s turn to get into the action when he leapt full length to turn Aymen Souda’s overhead kick round his post. From the resultant corner Gillespie was again the hero getting to his back post to push Alan Lithgow’s header over the bar.
A minute from half-time the ‘Well ‘keeper had to thank his team mates to keep his goal intact. Having gone to ground to block Scott Pittman’s route to goal he chased the Livi midfielder to the edge of the box, leaving Gallagher to head Pittman’s lofted shot off the goal line.
Having held on until the interval the Fir Park returned for the second 45 with Sherwin Seedorf replacing Ilic.
And his first contribution came within minutes sending a tempting ball into the six yard area which Stewart claimed from Scott’s head.
Livi’s Souda still posed a threat and latching on to Jacobs’ pass he fired into the side netting.
After 52 minutes, Stephen Robinson made his second change, with Christopher Long taking over Scott’s striker’s role.
And in his first challenge the ball broke to Alan Campbell, who in turn sent Hylton racing in behind the home defence but Stewart was quickly off his line to block the danger.
At the other end a short free kick gave Lithgow the opening to strike a shot down the middle of the goal but it was easily collected by Gillespie.
With Hylton and Seedorf threatening from both wings Motherwell started to find some openings and when Gallagher headed Carroll’s header towards goal, there was a scramble on the home goal line to clear the ball.
The best chance arrived after 66 minutes when Campbell sent Tait into the box but having checked inside his marker the ‘Well captain’s finish with the outside of his right boot was easily saved by Stewart.
As the game reverted to a midfield tussle, Devante Cole was given the final 10 minutes to make an impact.
However, it was Gillespie who earned ‘Well a point standing up to ex Well man Nicky Devlin, to superbly block his drive from eight yards.
In the closing minutes Declan Gallagher came close to making a winning return to Livingston when firstly he nodded on Liam Polworth’s cross forcing the ‘keeper to palm the dipping ball over his bar.
Gallagher then met Carroll’s inswinging corner only to power his header narrowly over the top. In added time Gallagher had one final attempt from yet another Carroll corner but could only guide his header over the Livingston goal.
Listen to live commentary from Livingston
Friday 02 August 2019
There’s live audio commentary available as Motherwell open the Ladbrokes Premiership season at Livingston on Saturday.
The Steelmen head to West Lothian off the back of four straight wins in the Betfred Cup, and having defeated the Lions in the last game in 2018/19.
Supporters anywhere in the world can listen in to the 3pm BST kickoff. To subscribe, head to tv.motherwellfc.co.uk.
Stephen Robinson speaks ahead of season opener
Friday 02 August 2019
The Motherwell boss spoke about managing expectations and competition for places, ahead of the Ladbrokes Premiership starting at Livingston on Saturday.
Here’s what Stephen Robinson said to the press on Friday morning.
On the season’s aspirations
“My aim is we try and win every single game. No matter who we are are playing, whether it’s Celtic, Livingston, St Mirren, it doesn’t matter.
“It doesn’t always work out like that, of course. But I think we are positive.
“I don’t set real targets. Yeah we do within the coaching staff, we do within the privacy of the dressing room.
“We don’t go shouting our mouths off about what we want to achieve. I think you take it step by step, and then see where you can get to by Christmas time.”
“You’ve seen what we’ve done early on when i was managing. Playing in a style that got us to two cup finals, which was putting balls into the box, getting down the sides of people.
“It was physical at times but that suited the players we had and the players we were able to recruit.
“We’ve done that differently since Christmas. We’ve brought in four wide players. We’ve got a lot of pace. A lot of energy.
“A lot of good, good footballers in the team. We’ve got boys that supplement what we already had.
“I think it will be an exciting brand of football. We will lose games as well, of course. But it will be by being positive.”
On managing expectations
“Expectation is the biggest thing to manage in football.
“First and foremost, we have to stay in the division.That’s our primary aim.
“Within the dressing room and coaching staff, we’ve got bigger aims than that. Much bigger aims than that.
“But we just have to temper that slightly. Take each game as it comes. It’s an old saying. It bores the life out of all you press people, I know.
“But we just have to try and win each game that we go onto the field with.”
On competition for places
“I think there’s a freshness about it. When I first took over, I had to shake it up a little bit. Then that season we got to the cup finals.
“It gives a freshness. You’re not hearing the same thing every day or working with the same people. There’s a real freshness. There’s an energy.
“It’s a young and enthusiastic squad. So it is something to be excited by.
“They are all happy now because they’ve all had games and we’ve been able to move things about and give everybody equal game time.It’s worked well for us but I have to do that.
“Any successful team and squad you have to rotate in modern football now.
“The pace of it. We only go with 20/21 outfield players. So we don’t have a big squad.
“You’re either in the squad or on the bench. Not many players miss out each week. Maybe a couple of the younger squad members.
“So people just have to get used to that. You’re going to be at a football club where you are one of two people fighting for a position.
“There’s not many clubs in the Premiership, or at any other level, where you are going to get that sort of guarantee.
“We’ve got a good squad, a good mentality. People are well aware they are going to have to fight for positions and I will pick who is playing well.”
” I expect very similar [from Livingston]. I think Gary is doing a tremendous job.
“They play to their strengths. They’ve had criticism for it and I don’t think they should have done. I think it’s good management.
“When you’ve got players who put a lot of balls into your box and make you run towards your own goal. They win second balls and are aggressive. And they play more football than people give them credit for.
“So I think they will be the exact same this season. It’s been successful for them.
“We have to match that enthusiasm and endeavour and physicality before we can start trying to play football.”