The protection plan for the Hampden team was in evidence as Motherwell kicked off in their all white strip. Lasley, Hammell, Sutton, Craigan and Jones were all rested but opportunities were afforded to others. Carswell gained his second outing of the season and Forbes partnered him in midfield. Jennings took up his place in front of the back four and sported the captain’s armband. Jeffers had the lonely job up front with Humphrey returning to give support from the wing.
A rare photograph - a Motherwell attack!
The home side had the better of the early exchanges though our defence coped well enough. Russell tried a curling volley in 16 minutes and a Watson header was easily taken by Randolph five minutes later. Gunning was tested by Daly’s pace but he did well to block the shot.
United were making all the running and Jeffers was reduced to spectating for long periods. Randolph, on the other hand, was busy. Our man was beaten at his near post in 36 minutes to concede the opener. Forbes had been booked for a late trip on Gomez and Dixon floated the free kick into the box from about 40 yards. Daly got a head to it and it squirmed beyond our ‘keeper’s legs and into the net.
Worse was to follow. Minutes before the break a pass from Kenneth set up Daly in glorious isolation inside the box and from 15 yards he drove low and hard to give United a comfortable, and deserved, 2-0 lead at half time.
The two goal advantage became three in 49 minutes when Gunning mistimed his jump and allowed Daly a simple finish for his hat-trick. We were beginning to look like a sorry lot. Young Gary Smith replaced Forbes as we tried to stem the tide.
The small band of travelling fans got a thrill on the hour when Jennings broke through two challenges to lay the ball off to Humphrey at the edge of the box. The winger beat a few and released a fierce shot that Pernis did well to hold. It was our first meaningful attack in the game. Craigan then made an appearance with Ross making way.
We were now in 4-4-2 shape and looking a bit better but in the last half hour the game had the pace of a practice affair, United secure with their three goal lead. Jones was given a ten minute run in place of Humphrey. We contrived to lose a crazy late goal when a sclaff trickled through a forest of legs to round off a horrible afternoon.
Houston had described Motherwell as a “bogey team” in his match programme notes but that label will not be used again unless we field a full strength eleven. Let’s hope the loss of 12 goals in three games doesn’t dent our confidence for our big day out at the end of the month.