|Match Date: Wednesday, February 9 2006|
|Competition: Scottish Premier League|
|Motherwell Team (4-4-2):|
Graeme Smith, Corrigan, Craigan, McLean, Hammell, McBride (O’Donnell 78), Kerr, McCormack, Foran, Scott McDonald (McGarry 78), Hamilton (Thermeus 68).
Subs Not Used: Meldrum, Fagan, Darren Lee Smith, Reynolds.
Sent Off: Thermeus (83).
WELL STILL WINLESS IN NEW YEAR
Kilmarnock 2 Motherwell 0
MOTHERWELL Continued their miserable run at Rugby Park by slumping to a disappointing defeat. The Fir Parkers have not won since Hogmanay and the prospects of a top-six place for the third successive year are diminishing rapidly.
It began promisingly for Motherwell who were keen to take forward the good play which so nearly got them a return ticket to Hampden the week before. Martyn Corrigan, whose unfortunate error contributed to the defeat then, attempted to atone with a drive which took a deflection wide of the target. Kilmarnock responded with Johnston playing in Invincible though Craigan hooked the ball away. They came closer when Naismith touched a pass through to Nish but his poor touch allowed Motherwell to clear. McBride and McDonald combined and sent Corrigan in on goals but a rather late offside flag halted play. Hammell took possession as the ball was returned downfield and he found McDonald though the chip beyond the on-rushing Combe went wide of the far post. McBride and McDonald then exchanged passes with the resultant cross headed goalwards by Foran though Combe clutched the ball. A foul by Naismith on McBride gave Motherwell a free kick wide on the right. Swung in, the ball was met cleanly by McLean only for Combe to produce a superb save to prevent the ball going over the line. Hamilton then slipped a pass to McDonald who saw his 18-yard shot blocked and cleared. The home side were forced into a relatively early change when Combe hobbled off to be replaced by Smith, the unusual situation then existing where both opposing Keepers held exactly the same name. Kilmarnock won a corner when Corrigan was forced to knock an Invincible cross behind. Wright rose to head the ball unchallenged but McBride did well to head confidently away from on the goal line. Stephen Craigan was then booked for his first mis-timed tackle when he fouled Naismith. The free kick came in though Foran was alert to head away. Getting to the by line again was Invincible but Smith did well to gather. A good exchange between Kerr and McDonald saw a dangerous cross come in though Smith for Kilmarnock held firm. Smith again was on hand for the home team to save a fiercely struck Kerr effort after good play from McDonald. Motherwell were having the better of play but they fell behind to a preventable goal. Nish flicked on for Wales who raced clear before slotting the ball beyond Smith. A slip from Craigan then presented the ball to Nish some 40 yards out and his attempt was well held by the back-pedalling Smith. The goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of Motherwell and the conceded a corner shortly afterwards. Kerr, however, was on hand to clear. Given the earlier booking for Craigan it was surprising that Fowler did not follow him into the book after taking McDonald out of the play. Hammell took the free kick and his curling effort struck the far post but continued to run behind. The Motherwell defender was then instantly involved at the other end, conceding a corner from an Invincible cross. Smith, despite being under pressure, punched the ball clear. Jim Hamilton, back defending, then made a superb tackle on Nish to stop a shot going in on goals. As the half neared it’s conclusion Motherwell won successive corners. Hammell saw the first cleared, but the second saw McDonald flick on for Hamilton but he couldn’t direct the ball on target. Just before the break McBride picked out Foran but again the effort was wide.
Half Time Kilmarnock 1 Motherwell 0
The visitors began the second half positively, though a vital interception by Wright prevented Hamilton connecting with a Hammell cross. Kilmarnock then pushed upfield and kept Motherwell at bay with a couple of corners though the Fir Park defence held firm. However, the solidity of the defence, already breached, was broken once again. Smith had done well to stop a Nish shot going in just beforehand, but Wilson’s cross saw Nish barge into Smith and as the keeper missed the ball it fell to Wales who netted. It looked a free kick but the goal stood. Motherwell immediately attempted to strike back, McBride saw a cross deflected towards Kerr but Wilson got in to block the shot. Twice in rapid succession Referee Dougall failed to award free kicks which should have gone in Motherwell’s favour. Firstly, Naismith clearly fouled McBride, and then Corrigan was the victim of a late Hay challenge but play continued. There was a free kick eventually given when Ford sent McDonald crashing to the ground but the Kilmarnock man cleared the ball. Invincible then conceded a corner off Foran and, when swung in, Foran flicked on to McDonald who perhaps should have done better than to loop his header narrowly over the bar. A Kerr ball was then flicked on by Hamilton to the apparently on-side McDonald. However, the far-side linesman, who looked to have been behind play, threw his flag into the air somewhat late. A terrific tackle from Craigan stopped a third when Naismith went clear on Smith, though this would have been against the run of play. Kilmarnock had a corner a minute later, Smith punching clear under pressure. Motherwell made a change, Abel Thermeus making his league debut in place of Jim Hamilton. Foran won a corner off the leg of Wilson shortly afterwards. Craigan’s header appeared to glance off the head of Fowler but there was no second corner. The post again denied Motherwell a goal when McDonald superbly turned his marker but saw the shot crash off the upright. Foran again won a corner and from it McLean should have done much better than to send an unchallenged header wide of the target. The home side then made a change, Wilson replaced by Locke. That was closely followed by a double Motherwell substitution, O’Donnell and McGarry replacing McDonald and McBride respectively. It almost paid immediate dividends, O’Donnell crossing for Foran and his head flick fell inches beyond the unmarked Thermeus. There was another corner won by Motherwell, this time by McCormack, and it took a fantastic save from Smith to stop McLean pulling a deserved goal back for Motherwell. The game then exploded when Motherwell were rather harshly reduced to ten men. Wright appeared to catch Thermeus with a hefty challenge from the back and as the Frenchman turned to confront the Kilmarnock player a melee ensued. Referee Dougall decided that what was at worst a booking should be deemed serious foul play and brandished a red card towards the Motherwell man. This infuriated the rest of the Motherwell team but Dougall was not for changing his mind, and despite Wright’s part in proceedings he escaped any punishment. When things calmed down, another home change had Wales replaced by McDonald. Motherwell still took the game to Kilmarnock, Corrigan found McGarry who was unlucky to drive wide. Corrigan himself then almost got on the scoresheet when his run and shot was plucked out of the air by the backtracking Smith. Nish then sent the ball well over the top before committing another foul. Referee Dougall pointed to several places on the field of play, clearly indicating Nish had been persistently fouling, but then bizarrely failed to book him. And moments later, after Naismith had clearly dived right in front of the Referee, the cards again firmly stayed in Dougall’s pocket.
Full Time Kilmarnock 2 Motherwell 0