Starting In Style:
Motherwell took to the field against Inverness on July 23rd with aspirations of bettering last season’s sixth place finish and did their chances no harm with a fine start, the early stages saw a collector’s item, a goal from Steven Hammell, his first for the club in seven years. Some fine passing exchanges including Jamie Murphy and new signing Nicky Law saw the former finish a fine move and put the ‘Well two goals to the good at half time. Late on, a twenty five yard cracker from Keith Lasley put Motherwell top of the league temporarily.
Are You Watching Craigy Brown?
Playing Aberdeen always holds extra incentive for Motherwell , given Aberdeen manager Craig Brown left Motherwell in controversial circumstances to go to Pittodrie. Motherwell started their home game with the Dons in September on the back of their first consecutive defeats of the season. The performance was far from convincing, but substitute Bob McHugh capitalised on Ricky Foster’s error to earn a single goal victory and put the Steelmen back on form.
Have I Told You Hateley That I Love You?
Before facing Inverness away from home in October, Tom Hateley had already scored a winning costless kick against St. Mirren, when Motherwell had been bombarding Craig Samson’s goal afternoon, but this one came in different circumstances, as Motherwell rarely threatened Inverness’ goal. The home side were ahead twice, before a late long range effort from Keith Lasley saw Motherwell draw level. Three minutes from time Tom Hateley stepped up and his costless kick sent the travelling support into raptures.
The Stand Is On Fire:
Friday night football came to Motherwell on the 2nd of December and a large crowd gathered as Motherwell faced Hibs. A lacklustre Motherwell trailed one nil at the break before a fire broke out in the South stand. Thankfully, no one was hurt but the game was abandoned which benefited Motherwell as a Michael Higdon hat-trick inspired side won the rescheduled game 4-3.
Stop! Ojamaa Time:
Before Motherwell faced Dunfermline towards the end of January, despite having enjoyed a fine season thus far, Motherwell had not won a home game since the aforementioned 1-0 victory against Aberdeen in the September. New signing Henrik Ojamaa had came on in the previous match with Dundee United and provided an assist and had a penalty claim turned down and showed promise. He further made his mark against the Pars, scoring the opener and inspiring a ten man Motherwell to a 3-1 victory and their first home victory in exactly four months, paving the way for many more.
In the opening stages of the calendar year 2012, Hearts looked to pose a real threat to Motherwell’s ambitions of third place and they were only six points behind when the sides met in February. A stroke of fortune put Motherwell ahead as Lasley’s effort was going wide before Andy Webster turned it into his own net. A rare headed goal from Murphy gave Motherwell a 2-0 cushion but Motherwell’s chances were threatened when Lasley was sent off for a second bookable offence, but Motherwell’s ten men didn’t seem fazed by the disadvantage and a fine strike from Law, after great build up play from Ojamaa and a fine pass from Murphy extended the gap to nine points.
The Kids Are Alright:
Motherwell’s success in 2011/12 was benefited by the fact that their small squad wasn’t often plagued with injury and suspension, with the St. Patrick’s day fixture with Aberdeen proving the first real test. The three first choice centre backs were missing- captain Stephen Craigan through injury and Tim Clancy and Shaun Hutchinson through suspension along with key midfielder Keith Lasley. Jonathan Page looked assured in his overdue chance in his favoured position at the heart of defence alongside rookie debutant Adam Cummins. Eighteen year old Stuart Carswell also performed credibly in replacing Lasley in midfield. Steven Hammell’s second goal of the season saw the side pass the first test and walk away with their third single goal victory of the season against Aberdeen.
We’ve Got the Law and The Law Won (Or drew at least):
Summer signing Nicky Law proved to be a fantastic coup by manager Stuart McCall, offering great creativity from midfield. Perhaps the most important of his seven goals throughout the season was his 81st minute volley against Hibs in April. Motherwell came into the game after defeats to Kilmarnock and Rangers and faced champions Celtic in the following game, so they were desperate to get something from the televised game at Easter Road. Gary O’Connor’s costless kick gave Hibs a first half lead and they looked most likely to score the second goal of the match, with Tom Soares hitting the bar. Law’s equaliser from just outside the area rescued what would be a crucial point at the business end of the season.
This Saint Too Bad:
With Hearts’ challenge having faded away, Dundee United and St. Johnstone were now posing threat to Motherwell. Before Motherwell faced St. Johnstone, Dundee United had dropped points in the early kick off so Motherwell had the chance to gain ground both of their rivals. Chris Humphrey was the architect behind Motherwell’s victory, winning a penalty early on which Higdon converted before Law bundled his low cross into the back of the net minutes later. Murphy volleyed Motherwell into a 3-0 lead before Liam Craig pulled one back for St. Johnstone. An inspired substitution put the game beyond any doubt, with Ojamaa scoring twice in the final ten minutes, increasing the lead to 5-1.
Buoyed by the 5-1 victory over St. Johnstone, three days later Motherwell faced Hearts in an attempt to further solidify third place. The only goal of the game came when Murphy’s shot was fumbled by Hearts goalkeeper Jamie MacDonald and Higdon slotted home the rebound for his sixteenth goal of the season. A resilient Motherwell held out for the victory, putting them eight points ahead of Dundee United, who had nine points left to play for. Their defeat to Rangers the following evening confirmed third place and the Lanarkshire sides participation in next season’s Champions League.