STEPHEN Craigan suffered defeat in his second match as Motherwell caretaker manager as Dundee held on for a 2-1 victory at Dens Park.
Back to square one for Motherwell. By all accounts they didn’t play that well in Stephen Craigan’s first game as interim manager but still squeezed out a win against Partick Thistle. Yesterday, a few intermittent first half moments apart, they were poor and it has to be said deservedly ended up with nothing.
Dundee prevailed, not through being particularly outstanding themselves, but because they managed to grab two second-half goals at crucial moments through Rory Loy and Kevin Holt that were enough to put the game beyond Craigan’s woefully punchless side. A late strike from Stephen Pearson never looked like being the precursor to a full- scale salvage job.
“Overall it’s a disappointment, because we were looking to build on last week’s win,” conceded Craigan before adding that he had “absolutely no idea” where this leaves him in terms of potentially taking on the Fir Park managerial role on a permanent basis. “I haven’t declared an interest in it to the owner and the owner hasn’t asked me if I want it – I’m sure it will become clearer in the next two or three days”.
There may have been autumn sun aplenty at Dens Park but this was a slow burner of a game. A dreadful opening 45 minutes were admittedly not helped by start-stop passages of play as a result of injuries. The hosts lost influential Greg Stewart and captain Kevin Thomson whilst Motherwell’s Lionel Ainsworth, who looked particularly lively, also hobbled off.
Dundee manager Paul Hartley, while delighted with the eventual outcome, voiced his unhappiness with the way he feels sides are targeting Stewart for some uncompromising attention this season. “It’s becoming a habit with Greg, He’s not getting much protection. I feel it’s week in, week out, they’re really targeting him,” he contended.
Stewart’s replacement did bring some compensation by way of replacement Gary Harkins and the midfielder’s eye for the telling pass. The game however continued to chug along in a fairly unremarkable way as the home side gradually gained the upper hand. It was still something of a mild shock nevertheless when they made the breakthrough. Out of nothing Riccardo Calder dinked the ball into the box for Loy who hooked it first time beyond the helpless Connor Ripley.
Not unexpectedly this gave the hosts a visible lift and they pushed forward with far more purpose in the aftermath. Their second goal arrived 12 minutes later after a free kick from Holt took a wicked deflection off the Motherwell wall en route to the back of the net.
Such had been the flatness about the visitors in the second half that few would have foreseen them clawing something back, but they did when Pearson netted with a low drive that appeared to catch Scott Bain unsighted. It was a late act of resistance but ultimately a fruitless one.