A review of the season
When the season started back in August few Motherwell fans knew what to expect. Some expected us to struggle with an ageing squad but the unrealistically optimistic amongst us saw promising youngsters taking us to mid-table security.
Our season started in the Dundee sunshine at Tannadice. Not a great performance but a good point from a tricky game. Our first home game was against Aberdeen. A Dean Windass free kick put us behind before two goals from man of the match McSkimming put us ahead. A goal from Shearer robbed us of our first win.
We did get a win at Raith though, before a defeat by the Huns and two well earned points at Dunfermline and Hearts. The first derby game of the season saw us beat Killie with a peach from Doogie. With just one loss in seven games the Claret and Amber machine looked good in fourth place.
Arnott scored a peach v Killie
Premier footie next season?
A single goal defeat at Parkhead took us down to seventh and we only managed one point from our next four games, which included a thrashing at Ibrox. A TC hat trick beat Killie but we couldn't continue this run of form and were stuffed two nil at Easter Road. A last minute goal defeated the Tims to keep us seventh but Raith gave us a dose of our own medicine with a one nil steal from Fir Park. After the ecstasy of the Celtic game this one was a real sickener. A well deserved point at Aberdeen was followed by the points being chucked away at home to Dunfermline.
Christmas gave us little cheer and fewer points with three defeats form three away games. Six points from nine in the next few home games saw us claw back up the table. Anyone who was optimistic about our chances at the the start was now duly pessimistic. A defeat at East End Park and another point from Aberdeen set us up for a five one mauling of Raith. One point out of a possible twelve took us back down to eighth and when the Jam Tarts won at Fir Park 'Well fans were checking the play-off dates again. Our fourth draw with Aberdeen stopped the rot and the last game before this is being written was against Raith Rovers. This was a must win and the team handled the pressure by getting goals from Falconer, Weir, Coyle and a Coyne brace to give us our best result this season.
There are now three potential endings to the season and I have no idea what will happen to us next. . .
Maybe . . .
1) With two home wins against Dundee Utd and Dunfermline and a point at Ibrox Motherwell finish the season strongly. Hibs lose at Kilmarnock and can only take one point from their run in and they fill the play-off space. As our safety is secured the team jet off to Spain for a holiday and when back they find their nightmares have come true as Airdrie (literally) out fight Hibs to clinch their Premier place.
Or Possibly . . .
2) A slick United side give us a lesson in counter attacking football and this is followed by another thrashing at Ibrox. We can only manage a point against Dunfermline while Airdrie win convincingly again to make a Lanarkshire play-off certain. Despite going into the game second favourite we play well and Coyne gives us the lead. In the second half though, we fade and Airdrie grab a deserved equaliser. A huge away support follow the 'Well to Broadwood and see a dull first half. In the second half both sides play better. There are chances at both ends before Owen Coyle scores a double. The Diamonds pull one back with a soft penalty to set up an exciting climax to the season. Despite continued pressure in the dying seconds Motherwell hold on to stay in the Premier league and leave poor greetin' Airdrie in the first (Ha Ha).
Or could it be . . .
3) A slick United side give us a lesson in counter attacking football and this is followed by another thrashing at Ibrox. We can only manage a point against Dunfermline while Airdrie win convincingly again to make a Lanarkshire play-off certain. The first game is a sell out but the 13,000 strong crowd go home without seeing any goals. The second leg is also a dire game and there are very few clear cut chances. In extra time we are denied a stone wall penalty just before Airdrie score past Howie in the 119th minute. Later Alex McLeish says (through gritted teeth) "You can't blame the referee, . . . how's my contract talks going?"
"How's the contract talks going now?"
I'm sure it's not scenario number three that's coming true!
We saw the draw and laughed at the cricket score we were going to run up against little Alloa. We missed several good chances but in the end we were outplayed and outfought by a well organized, determined side. Nuff said really.
A tricky tie at Firhill in the third round was won in the second half. A massive 'Well support saw goals from McSkimming and Davies ease us through. The tie that everyone in Lanarkshire wanted to see, saw us play the Accies for the first time in years. In the first game we were run ragged by Jose Quitongo and we settled for a replay. A solid performance and an Owen Coyle double saw us into the quarters for the first time in donkeys. A good Motherwell support travelled to Tannadice and saw us hold out the first half before falling apart in the second. Four one flattered us and a bullet header from big Mitch was scant consolation.
Joni Lehtonen and Simo Valikeri came from Finland and while Simo is a favourite, Joni seems to have disappeared off the face of the earth. Kevin Christie was bought for ten grand and looks a good prospect at twenty. The garden gnome Mickey Weir came on a free and repaid his signing on fee with a screamer against Raith Rovers. Owen Coyle was brought in to score goals and he did before being switched to midfield. We lost Jamie Dolan to the Arabs in the same deal but the swap has benefited both parties. Andy Roddie was released on a freebie and about time too!
Meaningless Stats (as of 14/4)
High Att. 13,166 v Rangers Low Att. 3,503 v Alloa
Avg. Att. 7,055 Total Att. 127,004
Most Apps Brian Martin/Eddie May (31) Top Scorer Tommy Coyne (10)
The season in a sentence
"We've been unlucky with injuries and crucial decisions but we have only ourselves to blame if we go down."
LEAGUE TABLE - PREMIER DIVISION
Up to and including Friday, April 18 1997
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