Motherwell got their 2010/11 campaign off to a good start with a 3-1 friendly victory over Brechin City.
Second half goals from John Sutton, Ross Forbes and Keith Lasley gave the Steelmen the edge against a gritty and determined home side.
The only blemish was a late goal conceded by the aid of a wicked deflection but Craig Brown and Archie Knox will have been more than satisfied with their evening’s work.
There was a debut in goal for new keeper Darren Randolph and trialists Carlos Gazapo and Chris Shuker were given starting places in an otherwise familiar looking ‘Well side.
The Steelmen started brightly and created the first opening inside the first sixty seconds when both the trialists combined to test Craig Nelson.
Former Tranmere winger Shuker chased a dead ball into the corner and managed to scoop a dangerous cross into the middle. Gazapo was lurking with intent but he was beaten to the ball by Nelson, who just about gathered at the second attempt.
The game quickly settled though and for ten minutes ‘Well dominated without creating too much in the way of clear cut chances. That changed on the 14th minute when Jamie Murphy’s speculative over-head kick dropped inches wide.
However, it was Murphy’s last involvement in the game as he was replaced by John Sutton after picking up a slight knock.
It took 27 minutes for the hosts to register an effort at goal but left-back Mark Docherty’s 30-yard effort trickled back to Randolph.
Motherwell replied five minutes later with a flowing move down the left involving Stevie Hammell and Gazapo allowed Sutton in behind Paul McLean. However, despite a good first touch, his effort blazed just over the bar.
If that was close, Brechin’s effort shortly after should have led to the opening goal. Former Inverness Caley hitman Rory McAlister found himself in acres of space on the right touchline. His cutback to the supporting Craig Malloy was perfect but his effort, from about ten yards, somehow went over the bar.
At the other end, ‘Well responded immediately and Hammell’s bursting run down the left almost brought an open goal but for a last-ditch block by McLean.
The resulting corner found captain Stephen Craigan whose goalbound looking header hit Shuker before being scrambled away. Lasley picked up on the loose ball on the edge of the area and his neat near-post cross came back off the bar before finally being pounced upon by Nelson.
Motherwell picked up where they left off in the second half and Sutton opened the scoring just four minutes in. Gazapo found space inside the area but his effort at goal was blocked. It fell to the former Saint who smashed it though Nelson into the net.
Things got even better for the visitors when Forbes made it two just six minutes later and it was a strike of some quality – much his goal agaisnt St Johnstone on the opening day of last season.
The midfielder’s corner on the right bounced through to Reynolds at the far post and his ball back into the middle found Forbes, who quickly switched onto his left foot before lashing an unstoppable strike into the top left corner of the net.
Motherwell’s tails were up and a flowing move was almost rewarded with a goal for trialist Shuker. A five-man passing move was eventually crossed by Hammell and landing at the feet of the pint-sized winger off the boot of a covering defender. His shot was going in but for a superb goal line clearance by sub David White.
However, the Steelmen weren’t to be denied and Lasley made it 3-0 with a powerful drive after Shuker’s shot was blocked on the edge of the area.
Gazapo threatened to add a fourth late on before Brechin pulled one back with only a few minutes to play. A cross from the left landed at the feet of sub Jamie Redman and his shot looked to be comfortable for Randolph but a wicked deflection took it high into the corner to give the hosts a consolation they probably deserved.
Motherwell: Randolph, Saunders, Hammell, Reynolds, Craigan, Jennings, Lasley, Forbes (Halsman 83), Shuker, Murphy (Sutton 22), Gazapo. Subs not used: Hollis, Hutchinson, Page, Meechan, McHugh.