RESULTS in pre-season friendlies are rarely of real significance but the outcome of this particular encounter was thrown into sharp relief by the beaten manager when he revealed, with a smile which will need to be surgically removed, that James McFadden will today commit his future to Motherwell.
Motherwell 2-4 Newcastle
Motherwell - Vigurs (24), McFadden (46 pen); Newcastle - Vuckic 8, Gouffran 15, Sissoko 39, Marveaux 64
The Fir Park icon has provided Stuart McCall with the perfect boost ahead of tomorrow’s Europa League draw by agreeing terms on a new deal with the Steelmen.
“I’m led to believe he’ll be signing tomorrow,” said McCall after the game. “If that happens – and we expect it to – then it will be a real shot in the arm for the club. We knew we’d have a hard task after losing so many players during the summer but I’m really pleased with who we’ve brought in.”
Motherwell started without new signings Stephen McManus (who will make his debut at Morecambe on Saturday) and John Sutton but gave a trial to Viking Stavanger’s Estonia strikr Henri Arcel.
He could have opened the scoring in the first minute but failed to hit the target and it was all downhill for the next 20 minutes. Newcastle supporter Shaun Hutchinson carelessly conceded possession inside his own half and, although Lee Hollis saved from Youan Gouffran, Haris Vucick rammed home the rebound. Vucick was the architect of the second goal, placing a slide-rule pass into the path of Gouffran, who stroked it behind Hollis from 12 yards.
Another new boy, Iain Vigurs, reduced the leeway with a 20-yard volley but a blunder by Hollis seven minutes from the interval saw the visitors restore their two-goal advantage.
There seemed little danger when Moussa Sissoko shot from the edge of the penalty area but the goalkeeper took his eye off the ball and allowed it to slip through his hands.
McFadden received a hero’s welcome when he appeared in place of McHugh at the interval and was handed the opportunity to make an impact almost immediately when referee Willie Collum harshly ruled that Sissoko had brought down Stuart Carswell.
The 30-year-old was unfazed by the dubiety of the award, however, and audaciously dinked the ball over Ron Elliot in the manner of Antonin Panenka or, for younger readers, Andrea Pirlo.
Newcastle’s superior skill and athleticism was not to be denied, however, and they added a merited fourth when Paul Dummett, a League Cup winner on loan to St Mirren last season, rolled the ball across the face of the goal for Sylvain Marveaux to fire home.
Motherwell: Hollis (Nelson 46), Cummins (Kerr 46), Ramsden, Hutchinson, Hammell, Carswell, Lasley (Moore 74), Vigurs (Murray 74), McHugh (Francis-Angol 46), Anier (Erwin 82), Lawson (McFadden 46).
Newcastle: Elliot, Tavernier, Williamson (S.Taylor 46), Yanga-Mbiwa (Streete 82), Dummett, Obertan (Ferguson 74), Anita (Richardson 82), Sissoko (Abeid 67), Vuckic (Marveaux 46), Sammy Ameobi (Amalfitano 82), Gouffran (Campbell 58).
Referee: W Collum.