A Porter hat-trick against Inverness was the spark which started the recovery. Craigan and Clarkson had returned and Klimpl's had moved to midfield. We set off on a nine game run without loss and by Valentine's Day we were 13 points off the bottom and fighting it out with Hibs for sixth place.
The highlight of that spell came at Tannadice. Goals from Fitzpatrick, Klimpl and Clarkson in a ten minute spell had destroyed United before the break. Porter added a fourth (his last for the club) and we had the biggest win of the season to raise spirits.
The cup provided a drawn out distraction. Inverurie's
There was no time to dwell on the cup exit. Celtic visited Fir Park inside 72 hours and we kept our decent league run alive with a 1-1 on the bumpy pitch. By this stage of the season the club was paying a heavy price for the lack of investment in the playing surface. It was an avoidable embarrassment and the effect on our playing style was dramatic. The game against Celtic might have been the low point and it was reduced to a barrage of long punts from both teams as players were unable to trust the surface for close control.
Another loss at Ibrox
The race for top six qualification was all that mattered in March and April and a win in
The last five games had us in the strange position of being able to influence the relegation issue from a position of safety. The news that a good crime count in these games might lead to a Europa League place added an unusual influence. Mark McGhee concluded that a combination of factors steered our season. The toll of injuries and suspensions on our small squad, the poor playing surface and the loss of Porter in the mid-season transfer window were the main factors which lead to Motherwell finishing in seventh place.
At the start of the season few felt that we would be able to sustain the form that lead to our third place finish in 2007/8 and many concluded that mid table mediocrity was a fair reward for this season's efforts.
We have the Europa League draw and the release of next season's fixtures to anticipate in the next few weeks and we can start the speculation about what might lie ahead.