“We got what we deserved. It wasn’t good enough.”
Stephen Robinson on Motherwell’s Betfred Cup last 16 exit.
“We got what we deserved. It wasn’t good enough.”
Stephen Robinson on Motherwell’s Betfred Cup last 16 exit.
Motherwell surrendered a lead to exit the Betfred Cup at the hands of St Johnstone.
Tony Watt’s goal on the hour mark gave the hosts the advantage, but strikes from Callum Hendry and David Wotherspoon sent the Saints through to the quarter-finals.
Ricki Lamie was restored at left-back ahead of Nathan McGinley in the only change to the 18 which drew 1-1 at McDiarmid Park last weekend.
A cagey start from both saw chances limited. Wotherspoon fired wide from distance for the visitors, while Declan Gallagher headed over from a Liam Polworth corner in the opening exchanges.
Aaron Chapman was called upon late in the first half to keep out Ali McCann’s close-range shot from May’s flick, with the goalkeeper sticking out a leg to make a vital block.
Both sides started the second half tentatively but Motherwell started to carve out set plays and benefited from one on the hour mark.
Polworth sent his deep free kick to the edge of the box, meeting the head of Ricki Lamie to flick on.
Watt gambled and found the ball at his feet six yards out. Steadying himself, he slotted the ball past Clark to give the hosts the lead.
But the visitors would rally and they found their equaliser eight minutes later.
Lamie’s short back pass allowed O’Halloran to race in and fire across goal from wide on the right side.
Chapman stuck out a leg but only diverted it into the path of Hendry, who tapped home the leveller.
Worse would follow with 15 minutes left. O’Halloran again got down the right side and had time to fire in a low cross, with Wotherspoon on hand to steer it in.
Jordan White was introduced as ‘Well went four in attack but they couldn’t carve out the chance to get level, and exited the competition at the first time of asking.
Can you boogie? Mark O’Hara believes he can.
In the last two weeks, Scottish football has been floating on cloud nine, with the sound of Baccara echoing somewhere in the distance.
Scotland have ended a wait going back to 1998 for a place at a major finals, and already the nation is gripped by Euro fever. The bug has certainly bitten at Fir Park.
In Stephen Robinson’s ranks there are two national treasures who may well have been boogying for the last fortnight.
In Declan Gallagher and Stephen O’Donnell, Motherwell had two representatives on the pitch in Belgrade when Steve Clarke’s side edged out Serbia on penalties, with the former arguably the player who has caught the eye the most over the last two international breaks.
To have one Well player start regularly for something is remarkable. Two? Incredible. But two being part of the most successful Scotland team for a generation? It’s bordering on fantasy.
Yet, it’s a fantasy that has allowed players throughout Scotland to dream. Dream that a place in the Scotland team is not reserved for players on either side of the Old Firm or the English leagues, but Clarke’s door is open to anyone who can prove he can make the grade.
“What Declan and Stephen have done is a terrific achievement, and I reckon every Scottish top flight player right now should be inspired by that,” said O’Hara.
“It’s a real goal to aim for. There’s a lot of time between now and the end of the season to put a good run of form together to try and catch the eye before the Euros.
“I’m sure everyone is motivated. If you are doing well, Steve Clarke has shown he’s not afraid to put people into a squad, so it’s a big objective for everyone. Certainly in our club, but probably at others, too.”
He added: “The pair of them haven’t really mentioned much in way of encouraging us to do what they’ve done, but you get to see them training every day and the levels that they put in. It’s incredible.
“You see they are very good players and the standard they are at. So it’s only natural when they come back in having helped Scotland qualify that there’s a buzz about the place.
“Personally, I want to be a part of that as well. It’s inspiring to see what the guys have been doing, and hopefully I’ll be a part of it as well one day.”
O’Hara’s versatility, coupled with his eye-catching performances of late, is a key factor that may well make him an outside shot to be on the plane to, err, Hampden next summer.
A full-back in his youth, the 24-year-old has made a name for himself in a central role at Fir Park, both in defence and the engine room.
He insists he’s happy to be deployed as Robinson sees fit, adding: “I’ve enjoyed playing anywhere the manager has put me if I’m being honest.
“When I was younger I used to get played at right-back but I’m not a huge fan of that. As long as I’m through the middle, whether at centre half or central midfield, I’m happy. To be honest, I just want to help the team, I’ll go anywhere.”
The opposition at Fir Park today is a familiar one. Fresh from a 1-1 stalemate last weekend on Scottish Premiership duty in Perth, Callum Davidson’s team arrive in Lanarkshire on Scottish League Cup duty.
“It’s always hard to go to McDiarmid Park,” reflected O’Hara. “St Johnstone have had a reasonable start to the season and are showing now that they are a decent side, so we just need to take encouragement from the game.
“For me, it’s a good point and hopefully it will be that when we look back on it at the end of the season. We just need to make sure we turn that draw into a win this weekend.
“We fancy our chances against anyone. We take confidence, particularly at home, you have to with the pitch the way it is.
“So yeah, we’re looking forward to the game and we are confident that it will go in our favour.”
O’Hara needs no history lesson to be motivated by the task this afternoon.
A mention that Motherwell have only won the competition once is noted, as is the notion that the Steelmen have had to watch other clubs of a similar stature lift the trophy in recent seasons.
While last season’s third-place finish brought European football, increased prize money and immense satisfaction, disappointing exits in the cups were sorely felt.
O’Hara hopes all of these elements will be addressed this afternoon.
“We definitely think we can do something in the cup,” he said.
“When the season starts I think the objective is normally top six and a decent cup run, whether the Scottish Cup or League Cup. And it’s a real opportunity to do well in a tournament.
“It doesn’t matter what club you’re at, every player wants to strive for a piece of silverware at the end of the season. We have a very good squad and I think we are more than capable of going far.
“It’s another achievement we want to shoot for, and we know we have what it takes.”
By Scott Mullen
“We want to progress. That’s the objective on Saturday.”
Ricki Lamie previews the Betfred Cup last 16 tie with St Johnstone.
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“We want to lift our fans’ spirits. A cup run can do that.”
Stephen Robinson looks ahead to the visit of St Johnstone in the last 16 of the Betfred Cup.
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Motherwell host St Johnstone on Saturday, as the two clubs prepare to face each other in quick succession.
These are the storylines going into the Betfred Cup last 16 tie.
A second meeting in the space of seven days will see a game with a different complexion to the one at McDiarmid Park.
Fir Park will play host to the opportunity to progress to the quarter-finals of the Betfred Cup, with just one further tie to play before a trip to Hampden Park.
A journey back to April 2011 is required to find the last cup meeting between the two sides.
It was a memorable occasion for Motherwell, as the 3-0 victory at Hampden Park sealed a place in the 2010/11 Scottish Cup final.
The last League Cup fixture between the two came in 1969. It was another semi-final at Hampden, with the Saints winning through before being defeated by Celtic in the final.
The last 16 tie represents an opportunity for both sides to play their way to within one game of an appearance at Hampden Park.
Motherwell’s last outing at the national stadium came in the 2018 Scottish Cup final, having also contested the Betfred Cup final in the same season in Mount Florida.
St Johnstone’s last trip to Hampden came in the 2011 Scottish Cup semi-final, where they lost 3-0 to Motherwell.
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It was the clash of two loanees at the weekend, as PJ Morrison’s Falkirk hosted Jamie Semple’s Cove Rangers in a top-of-the-table clash.
The goalkeeper would prevail with a clean sheet in a 1-0 victory, with Semple coming off the bench with 20 minutes to go but unable to breach the goal of his team-mate.
Calumn Morrison’s goal early in the second half ended Cove’s 100% start to the League One season, with Falkirk now moving to within a point of them with five games played.
PJ has now kept three clean sheets in four starts for the Bairns, starting off impressively in his loan spell.
Ross MacIver got 90 minutes for Morton in their 0-0 draw at Arbroath, a result which leaves them one point off the promotion play-off places.
Harry Robinson remains sidelined, while Sam Muir saw Gretna’s game at Penicuik Athletic postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.