After a remarkable five pre-season wins out of five, there was a large and confident Motherwell support at Livingston on 2 August 2002 to back the team when the real business started.
Not for the first time, when a big support is present, the team struggled. We were 3-0 down inside an hour and staring at a humiliation. However, goals from Leitch and Lehmann restored dignity although we never looked like getting a draw. Worryingly, we had five or so booked and Butcher sent to the stand…surely just opening day nerves though.
An abysmal game with Thistle followed, Burns and Pearson finding the net, before the first win of the season arrived at Rugby Park. Most ‘Well fans would have been happy with a draw and things looked good when Locke was sent off for throwing an elbow. When McLaren saw red for dissent, the pressure was on for us to take advantage. Goals from Ramsay and Pearson gave us three points and when Sanjuan committed a last man foul, Killie were reduced to eight players. McFadden scored a delightful free kick to round of a superb day.
We had achieved four points from the first three games, something that was definitely a success. The poor performances against Livi and Thistle, potential relegation foes, wrer a little alarming but no doubt this would just be a temporary glitch.
A traditional game of two halves took place at Tannadice. We should have been home and dry by half time but with only one goal to our name we ended up frantically holding on for a point. The next game against Hibs highlighted why we would struggle all season.Hibs came to Fir Park with no points on the board and after our solid, but unspectacular start, we were comfortable in sixth place. An evenly fought first half was punctuated only by Derek Townsley scoring from a ridiculous free kick. We came out refreshed and were all over the visitors but the game turned on three vital moments.Ferguson rattled the inside of the post but it stayed out, then McFadden missed a sitter of a one on one.Hibs march up to the other end, Townsley scored, and unbelievably, they escape with all three points. A sign of things to come.
We were still clear of the relegation zone but with a tough home game to Celtic next on our agenda, things were looking bleak…
Remember last season? Read the FPC review of 2001/2.