There were five changes to the side that drew with Dundee United at the weekend. The ‘keepers were swapped with Neilsen winning his first start since Kransodar and our regular striking pair was rested with McHugh and McFadden given that job. In midfield, Lawson and Ainsworth replaced Lasley and Vigurs.
The team was led out by captain for the night Stevie Hammell and on this occasion the team were dress all in black (on Saturday they wore white shorts with the black shirts). The early play saw little goalmouth action and the ball fairly flew off the slick pitch.
Motherwell scored from their first corner after 15 minutes. Ainsworth delivered from the left, Ramsden’s header clipped the ball to the back post area a McHugh sent it into the net with a fast reaction nod of his head.
The home side pushed forward at every opportunity but the familiar back four snuffed out any attempted effort on goal and Neilsen was protected. Ainsworth had a blast that flashed beyond the post and we has a couple of corner without any result. The difference in ability became more apparent as the half progressed. We were able to string a series of passes together while the opposition tended more to a traditional up ‘n at ‘em approach.
The second period started with some schoolboy defending from Livingston. Donaldson confused himself in the area and instead of clearing or rolling the ball back to Jamieson he slipped and gave McHugh a chance to roll the ball across the six yard line but Faddy failed to make sufficient contact.
Lawson failed to impress. It may be that he has still to reach peak fitness or just hasn’t yet settled in to his new team but he hasn’t yet shown the form that made him McCall’s first signing in the close season. On the other hand, the final acquisition before the window closed, Ainsworth, looked lively and able to to make a fine contrinution from the left side.
While the entertainment on the pitch was fair at best, there was another contest to amuse the crowd of 1660. The home team had their choir (complete with drummer) housed opposite the much larger ‘Well contingent and the combined effect was to produce an atmosphere that fitted a much grander affair.
Any lingering hope was squashed from our hosts when Talbot was given a straight red card following a crunching tackle on Hammell. Both teams adjusted and Sutton came on for McHugh. We scored the second immediately. Ainsworth fired a low drive into the box and McFadden was on hand to deliver a low flick beyond the ‘keeper. It was his first of the season and he celebrated in style in front of the travelling fans.
The careless concession of a late corner was followed by the loss of a goal as the clock showed 90 minutes. The delivery found its way to the centre of the box and in the ensuing melee Denholm forced the ball over the line. It was a crumb of comfort that the hard working Livingstone deserved but the result was never in doubt.
The game was won at a canter and we look forward to the quarter final draw on Thursday afternoon.