There was a debut for McCall’s first signing Steve Jones along with a return for Saunders on the sand strewn surface at Fir Park. Forbes was on the bench and Lasley was unavailable following the hamstring he injured last week.
A touch from Murphy was enough for the opener
In a change to the usual routine we attacked the Cooper end goal in the first half and we almost sneaked the opener in the first minute. Murphy and Sutton caused confusion in front of Smith in the visitors’ goal and we had made clear our intentions.
The outcome of the game was settled by set pieces. We scored from two, Hibs missed a penalty and Randolph dealt efficiently with a couple of free kicks from Riordan.
The first goal followed a peach of a delivery from Hammell’s left foot. His free kick some thirty-odd yards out cleared the pack and the Motherwell forwards were first to react. Murphy pounced and our former ‘keeper,Smith, seemed uncertain. A touch was enough and we were one up in twenty minutes.
Five minutes later Hammell whipped in a corner from the East Stand wing and Saunders got his head to the ball at the near post. It flew into the net and we had a two goal lead. It seemed all to easy and Hibs looked like a beaten team.
Humphrey’s pace on the right wing was electric. He was more than happy to push the ball up the line before overtaking the luckless defenders and the fans reacted to his attacking attitude. On the other side of the park we had a first look at Steve Jones (one of five Stevens/Stephens in our starting eleven). At times he was over elaborate but he showed a willingness to come into midfield and chase if needed and looked comfortable in his work with Hammell on the left.
The turning point in the game came just before half time when Saunders handled a crossed ball inside the box. He saw yellow but his blushes were saved when Zemmama blasted the spot kick high over the bar and into the South Stand. At the interval it seemed impossible that Hibs could mount enough of a challenge to earn a point.
The second half was free of much in the way of goalmouth action. Calderwood sent on Nish and later Riordan and we beefed up our back line with Page and Meechan (who replaced a hobbling Hateley). The only tests for Randolph came from a couple of free kicks from decent range from Riordan but our man was up to the task and held both shots.
Much of the after match analysis of this game will focus on the problems at Easter Road but the win will be very welcome in the Fir Park dressing room. It is the first SPL win for Stuart McCall and he’ll be hoping for more of the same when we visit Perth on Wednesday night.