Motherwell 3 – 0 East Stirlingshire: Well dig deep

Scott McDonald heads home to give Motherwell a 2-0 lead over East Stirlinghsire. Picture: SNS

Scott McDonald heads home to give Motherwell a 2-0 lead over East Stirlinghsire. Picture: SNS

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Motherwell’s Marvin Johnson, Scott McDonald and Chris Cadden all struck in the 3-0 win over East Stirling which keeps their side on course for the Betfred Cup last 16.

However, Mark McGhee’s team had to wait until the 53rd minute for Johnson’s breakthrough after failing to make the most of their early openings.

McDonald netted the second on 77 minutes before Cadden’s late third wrapped up the Ladbrokes Premiership outfit’s second Group F win. Another victory at Stranraer on Saturday should see them follow Rangers into the knockout rounds.

McGhee made four changes to the side which beat Annan on Saturday, with Craig Clay handed a start in midfield.

The former Grimsby midfielder had agreed a short-term deal specifically to allow the Well boss time to assess him in action against the Shire and he did well enough to suggest a longer contract could be in the offing.

But there was a more familiar face in the home dugout as James McFadden returned to Fir Park to start work as McGhee’s new assistant.

Predictably, it was one-way traffic as Motherwell swarmed over the Lowland League part-timers – but East Stirlingshire keeper Darren Dolan did well to deny Johnson and McDonald early on.

Motherwell’s failure to maintain their smart tempo, though, allowed Shire to settle and they even mustered a shot on Well stopper Craig Samson’s goal when Derek Ure took aim from distance.

Their brave resistance stretched into the second half but Johnson eventually found the space he needed for the opener, collecting a pass from the tidy looking Clay before spinning and firing past Dolan.

With the handbrake off, Ben Heneghan, Lionel Ainsworth, Clay and Johnson all came close to a second but it took McDonald’s close-range header from a Cadden cross to put daylight between the sides.

Cadden was just as clinical four minutes from time as he picked out the bottom corner from Richard Tait’s cut-back.

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