Motherwell 0 - 0 Partick Thistle: Well rest players
THE scoreline really does sum this one up – it was a nothing game.
With confirmation from Easter Road earlier in the day that Motherwell will face Rangers in the play-offs to determine who will be in next season’s Premiership, everything that happened in this soporific 90 minutes, was shorn of any significance when set against those two fateful showdowns.
Did we learn anything here that would provide any pointers as to how Motherwell are likely to fare? Probably not. Manager Ian Baraclough wisely wrapped most of his key players in cotton wool in preparation for what lies ahead – with possibly up to half a dozen of those who are likely to feature in the first leg at Ibrox absent yesterday.
His makeshift side didn’t concede any goals, but they didn’t score any either. The fact that Partick also had a few regulars missing from their line-up just added to the sense that we might as well have been watching a bounce match for all that it told us.
A small handful of netbound efforts by either side that were competently dealt with by Dan Twardzik for the hosts and Thistle’s Scott Fox respectively were the only notable moments.
With Motherwell seemingly having no new injury worries or suspensions to concern themselves with, it really would have taken something quite out of character with this game for anyone to have picked up a yellow card.
And so on to the showdown. With each passing week the seemingly possible twist of fate that Stuart McCall would return to Fir Park with the objective of sending Motherwell down has mutated into reality.
Neither the current Rangers manager nor the Lanarkshire club wanted it to turn out this way, but it is proof, as if it were needed, that football doesn’t necessarily script appointments with destiny that are all about fairytale endings.
For Motherwell it is not only a season that has had a lot more lows than highs that points to a formidable challenge ahead – there are also a slew of statistics.
It’s been 39 games since they last prevailed against the Ibrox side in league or cup fixtures and that includes a defeat in the League Cup a couple of seasons back when the Steelmen, under McCall, were right up there near the top of the Premiership and Rangers were still adjusting to their hugely-diminished status in the basement division following their financial traumas.
Can the man who replaced him at Fir Park, Ian Baraclough, somehow find a way to make his men believe and then play their way to survival?
“It’s an exciting one.” reflected Baraclough on the prospect of heading to Ibrox.
“The players should be upbeat and excited about going to one of the great stages in Scotland. It’s not going to be decided on Thursday and we need to make sure we come back here with a result we can step on from for the second leg. I would hope there would be no fear amongst our players.
“Rangers are a massive club in Scottish football, everyone can see and respect that.
“They’ve got a good manager in Stuart McCall, who knows our players and the place he’s coming to.
“I respect Stuart and like him as a person. It’ll be a good battle and the team that deals with it mentally as well as physically will come out on top”
Motherwell: Twardzik; Watt, Laing (Law 64), Ramsden (O’Brien 55), Straker; Ainsworth (Leitch 46), Grant, Carswell, Thomas; Sutton, Moore.
Partick: Fox; O’Donnell, Hendry, Richards-Everton, Booth; Elliott, Wilson (Craigen 78), Bannigan, Fraser; Doolan (Taylor 68), Higginbotham (McLaughlin 82).
Referee: S McLean.