Saturday, January 24
Motherwell slipped to 7th in the SPL following a desperately disappointing 1-0 defeat at East End Park this afternoon. It was a poor showing from the Steelmen and we never really got going all afternoon.
Barry John Corr was surprisingly named in the starting eleven after Gordon Marshall seemingly suffered a back injury during the warm-up. The only other change was the introduction of Phil O’Donnell to replace the injured Scott Leitch.
In truth this was a dire game between two very poor sides, and there was very little in the way of goalmouth action during the entire 90 mins. Probably our best chance of the match came very early on, when Burns was through on goal only for the Dunfermline goalkeeper to block at his feet. The ball fell to David Clarkson, and his chip over the ‘keeper was cleared off the line. Aside from that we were rarely seen as an attacking force in the first half, while at the other end of the pitch Corr was a virtual spectator at times, although the home side did create one clear-cut opportunity shortly before the interval when Skerla sent the ball wide with the goal at his mercy.
The second half sadly was no better, with an O’Donnell shot which hit the side netting and a Clarkson chip which went just wide our only notable efforts on the Pars goal. Dunfermline were equally as poor, with Corr again having little to do, and it seemed that the game was destined to end in a 0-0 stalemate. However, similar to last week at Ibrox, just when a point was there for the taking we conceded a scrappy late goal. A corner kick wasn’t properly cleared and when the ball was played across goal, Young scored with an overhead kick to put the Pars into the lead. Even after going a goal down we showed very little urgency and never looked like getting back on level terms, with the Pars holding on comfortably for a 1-0 win.
This really was poor stuff all round, with only perhaps Hammell, Craigan, Corrigan and Clarkson gaining pass marks. While the defence looked reasonably solid, the midfield was virtually non-existent and our tactic of hitting long ball after long ball up the park was far too predicable and was easily dealt with by the Dunfermline defence. Surely TB has got to change things around a bit for next week, and I’d start by bringing Gary Bollan into the side at left-back, pushing Hammell up to left-midfield and getting rid of Jason Dair. It might also be worth introducing Shaun Fagan to the side as Phil O’Donnell is clearly still out of sorts and needs time to get his fitness back.
Team (4-4-2): Corr, Quinn, Corrigan, Craigan, Hammell, Lasley (Scott McDonald 79), Adams, O’Donnell, Dair, Burns, Clarkson.
Subs not used: Marshall, Bollan, Fagan, Kinniburgh.
Terry Butcher’s post-match comments were as follows:
“We didn’t start the game well and took until the second half to really get into things. It wasn’t the best of games and I don’t think our goalkeeper really had a save to make. Once again we put in a lot of effort and got nothing for it, but we’re learning that games at this level can turn on the slightest thing. The goal we lost was a bit of opportunism on their part, but we should have cleared it much earlier instead of allowing it to bounce around. It was a terrible goal to lose. I don’t think the pitch had any bearing on the game because it was the same for both teams and we competed well enough.”
On the late change of goalkeeper, TB added:
“Gordon (Marshall) injured his back in training last week, but thought he was fit enough to play. Unfortunately he aggravated it before kick-off and we had to bring in young Barry John Corr. I have to thank Jimmy Calderwood for letting us change the team sheets so late on.”
Our Rumours page reports that Dunfermline’s Lee Bullen is expected to sign for us early next week. However, it could well be a pre-contract agreement that Bullen signs as he is under contract at East End Park until the end of the season and Motherwell are unlikely to pay a fee.
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