THIS defeat for Motherwell was a bit like their slide down the Premiership table – slow, painful and inexorable.
Scorers: Dundee - P McGinn 12
They were in arrears from early on after Paul McGinn’s cross turned shot landed in the net and although a confident and competent Dundee side did not add to their advantage, the Fir Park men never remotely looked like clawing their way back into the game in the long drawn-out 80 or so minutes that remained.
With Ross County building on the momentum gained in their victory over the Lanarkshire side to win again yesterday, Motherwell are in more ways than one rock bottom.
While Dundee manager Paul Hartley was rightly full of praise for the professionalism of his own side’s performance, he rather tellingly observed that the home side “didn’t cause us too many problems”.
His counterpart Ian Baraclough certainly has problems galore and he didn’t shy away from acknowledging the fact. “Hopefully the stark reality of the league table will kick us into life,” he reflected. “Monday to Friday we’ve got players who look bright in training, but it’s breaking down that fear factor on the day that we’ve got to do”.
For a side low on confidence and desperate to get off to a good start, things couldn’t have gone much worse for Motherwell. Not only did they concede early but it was the sort of freakish strike that destroys morale. When McGinn latched on to the ball way out on the right flank everyone, including his team-mates, braced themselves for a cross deep into the six-yard box. Instead, the Dundee fullback’s flawed execution saw the ball sail into the far corner of the goal, with home goalkeeper George Long reacting way too late.
The Fir Park men did not want for application as they tried to engineer a quick response to this setback, but although they poked and pressed away at the Dundee rearguard, in reality they made little headway and Scott Bain was barely troubled. Meanwhile, further down the field, the lack of belief in the home ranks just kept resurfacing. There were panicky clearances, bad decisions and lots of cheaply conceded possession. Another goal for the visitors looked as though it could be decisive even at this stage and it could easily have arrived before the interval as a shot by Paul McGowan just curled wide of the post and Long scrambled to turn away a Greg Stewart effort.
If what had transpired before the interval was dispiriting for Motherwell, what followed it was just plain depressing.
They just couldn’t muster up the inspiration and drive to find an equaliser and only a lack of a clinical touch in the final third prevented the visitors from getting a deserved second. Stewart and Alex Harris both went close again as Hartley’s men found it a bit of a canter to impose control over the proceedings. The hosts just couldn’t string enough passes together to get upfield towards Bain’s goal often enough and even a late flurry which saw them win a few corners almost predictably petered out with the ball running harmlessly out of play.
Motherwell: Long; Ramsden, Laing, McManus, Straker; Erwin, Lasley, Grant, Johnson (N Thomas 42); Moore (D Thomas 63), Sutton (Ainsworth 73).
Dundee: Bain; P McGinn, McPake, Konrad, Dyer; Harris, Thomson, S McGinn, McAlister; McGowan (Harkins 80), Stewart (Clarkson 83).
Referee: D Robertson. Attendance: 4,282.
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