Motherwell bounced back from two defeats to comprehensively win the first Lanarkshire derby of the season.
Two goals inside the first 21 minutes, from returning captain Peter Hartley and a seventh of the season from Liam Donnelly put ‘Well in charge. And although Ross Cunningham pulled one back for Accies, Chris Long’s goal just after half-time eased the Steelmen to the most comfortable three points.
Although Accies played with 10 men for 70 minutes, the Fir Park men dominated the match from start to finish, with a number of impressive performers in claret and amber.
Following their Betfred Cup exit, Stephen Robinson shuffled his starting line-up. In the absence of Richard Tait, Liam Grimshaw kept his place on the right, but Peter Hartley was recalled to the centre of defence, with Charles Dunne moving to the left.
Having interchanged his strikers in the fixtures so far, James Scott and Christopher Long were given the chance to be paired in the attack.
Facing the 1500 ‘Well fans behind Owain Fon-Williams goal the Steelmen were on the front foot from the kick-off.
After six minutes Sherwin Seedorf played the ball in front of Liam Polworth and his low effort from the edge of the box produced a decent save from the Accies ‘keeper.
A few minutes later and a steady build up on the right involving Seedorf, Alan Campbell and Liam Grimshaw, ended with Polworth pulling his shot wide of goal.
The signs were good for the visitor’s and Seedorf was again at the heart of the action but from four yards in front of goal he failed to connect with Scott’s cross from the left.
The pressure on the home goal and in the 15th minute it had a lucky escape when Hartley got his head to Polworth’s corner only to see the ball rebound from the crossbar and forced over for another corner. From the third consecutive flag kick Harley was finally rewarded stooping to send the ball looping into the net to give his side a deserved lead.
Five minutes later and ‘Well doubled their lead and it was a double whammy for Accies.
Another swift move on the right found Campbell driving for goal and when the ball was deflected across the six yard box, Scott rose to head the ball towards goal.
Jamie Hamilton, on the line, stretched out an arm to deny the striker a goal, conceding a penalty and earning the young Accies defender a red card.
Donnelly buried the resultant spot kick under the diving ‘keeper to put the Fir Park two ahead and in the driving seat.
However, that two goal advantage lasted only two minutes. In Accies first attack a ball into a packed box connected with Hartley’s raised hand – leaving Ross Cunningham to ram the resultant penalty high past Mark Gillespie.
It did little to change the pattern of the game, though, as Motherwell made the most of the extra man to dictate the remainder of the first half.
However, despite dominating possession and pressing Accies into their own area, ‘Well failed to extend their lead. Indeed, apart from Grimshaw’s crisp 30 yard drive which forced a fine save from Fon-Williams the Hamilton ‘keeper was largely untroubled.
While you suspected that ‘Well might pay for not capitalising on their advantage – it took the visitor’s only five minutes into the second half to take a firm grip of the game.
Chris Long collected at the ball at left hand corner of the 18 yards box and then dribbled the ball all the way to the other corner of the box, before firing a low shot beyond Fon-Williams and inside the ‘keeper’s right hand post to make it 3-1.
After a decent contribution Seedorf made way for Jermaine Hylton, who was given just over 30 minutes to further torment an overworked Accies defence.
Long might have nicked another when Dunne’s inviting cross from the left sped across the six yard box narrowly in front of the inrushing ‘Well striker.
After 65 minutes Devante Cole took over from Scott who had impressive afternoon cutting in from the wide areas.
With Motherwell in complete control and Gillespie yet to make a save the visitor’s were still chasing another gaol in the final five minutes.
Good work from the tireless Long ended with his angled shot being deflected beyond the post and the waiting Cole.
In another break the ball found its way to Hylton was beaten by Fon-Williams but by that stage the points were safely heading back across the Clyde.