The young team did well in the first half and commanded the game. There were few goal scoring opportunities at either end and though we looked a bit shaky at corners it seemed unlikely that we would manage to lose the game.
The second half saw the same pattern emerge. Periods of Motherwell possession were at time abruptly ended by some over physical tackles from Flamaturi. Their foul count at the end of the match was 23 compared to our 10 and they had three booked.
The high temperature persuaded the officials to allow a drinks break and Jim Gannon tried to pass on some final advice. The golden chance for Motherwell came in 57 minutes when Hammell sent in a long free kick directed towards Sutton. Guga was, in the opinion of the referee, holding the striker and we were awarded a penalty. Sutton stroked the ball to the keeper's right and into the net but the ref ordered a retake because of enchroachment. This time Mocka saved Sutton's half hit effort. Hammell was booked for protesting.
The sucker punch came ten minutes later. From a throw in level with edge of the penalty area our failure to clear presented Strati with a chance from around twenty yards. He struck the shot sweetly and Fraser had no hope of preventing the goal. The home side took heart and found fresh legs. They probably had the best of the last fifteen minutes and it never looked as though we would find an equaliser.
The tie is very much alive and we should be able to overturn the one goal deficit. If we are unable to beat that team by two goals then we can have no complaint.
Have a look at the Flamurtari slideshow.
Motherwell: Fraser, Hammell, Reynolds, Craigan, Sutton, Lasley, O'Brien, McGarry (Fitzpatrick 64), Forbes (Murphy 74), Saunders (Page 40), Slane. Subs not used: Jennings, Hutchinson, McHugh, Kosiorowski.