The promised attacking formation was delivered. O'Brien was at right back, Sutton and Murphy lead the line while Coke, Forbes and Slane pushed forward at every opportunity.
Well done Ross!
Steaua kicked off and were soon on the defensive. Sutton produced a good header from Slane's cross and forced their keeper into the first of many punched saves. We maintained the pressure and took the lead following a corner. The ball fell to Forbes at the edge of the box and his left footed rocket found the net and the Motherwell support started to believe.
We continued to push forward urged on by Jim Gannon's encouragement from the sideline. Sutton was dominant in the air and his marker resorted to pulling our man's shirt in desperation. It is a mystery how the officials failed to give a penalty for one obvious infringement.
The Steaua defence looked rattled as we continued to push forward on both flanks.but they held on to regroup at the interval. Gannon waved his troops into the dressing room eager to encourage them to deliver more of the same in the second half. So keen were we to rejoin the battle that the players were on the park several minutes ahead of the opposition.
At last the referee noticed the manhandling of Sutton and we were awarded a couple of free kicks close to the angle of the box. Forbes tested the keeper and Reynolds attempt on the rebound came close. Five minutes later and the game ws lost.
A rare attack from the visitors ended abruptly when O'Brien made contact with Stancu inside the box. A penalty was awarded and Ruddy was unable to repeat the heroics in Bucharest and was beaten by Marin. The effect on Steaua was immediate. Secure with the away goal they relaxed and began to show some on their expected form. We pressed on looking to win the game but they picked us off with a double from Stancu. His first was a cracking dipper from all of 25 yards and it was followed by a 16 effort as the game drew to a close.
It was a disappointing end to what had been a fine showing by Motherwell. Most of the 5 000 spectators left wondering what might have happened if the referee had given one of the several penalty claims in the first half or if Zapata had failed to make a save from Forbes' free kick.
We reciprocated the courtesy shown by Steaua in Bucharest and clapped them from the park. In truth, few expected us to get past a team with their pedigree but we gave them a game and are surely as well prepared for the start of the SPL campaign as we could ever be.