Sutton: Match fitness can help Motherwell progress

MOTHERWELL striker John Sutton feels the disappointing 2-2 draw with Stjarnan can ultimately help them qualify for the next round of the Europa League.

The Motherwell top scorer believes the visitors can win in Iceland. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Motherwell were pegged back by a stoppage-time penalty after going two ahead inside 20 minutes at Fir Park to leave them needing a win in Iceland on Thursday night.

But Sutton thinks their first 90 minutes of the season can sharpen them up as they prepare to face a side who remain unbeaten in the Icelandic league after 12 matches.

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The Englishman has helped Motherwell turn round first-leg deficits against Llanelli and Flamurtari and he feels improved match-fitness can help.

“It was our first competitive game and hopefully that’s got rid of a bit of rustiness and we can go there and get the result we need,” the 30-year-old said.

“We felt pretty well-prepared for it and the performance wasn’t too bad, but in the end we came away with a 2-2 draw, which wasn’t ideal. But it was the first 90 minutes so hopefully we can do something even better out in Iceland.

“Certainly we have a squad of players who are capable of getting a result and hopefully we are still in Europe come Friday morning.

“It’s tricky, obviously if you keep a clean sheet at home then that helps, and equally we could have scored more goals.

“They are a good team and it’s on a different surface to what we are used to but there’s no reason why we can’t go there and get a result.”

Stjarnan’s artificial pitch appears to be unpopular with many of their domestic opponents but Sutton vowed there would be no excuses.

“Artificial surfaces are becoming more common in football,” he said. “I don’t think anyone really likes it but we are going to have to play on it in the SPFL this season against Hamilton and Kilmarnock and it’s the same for both teams so we just have to get on with it.

“I don’t think there will be any complaints about the surface if we go out, it’s all about who performs better on the day.”

Sutton was part of the Motherwell team that beat then Icelandic league leaders Breidablik 1-0 in Iceland four years ago and he feels that experience - and their European knowledge in general - can help.

“It was a really tough game and from that experience we knew this one was going to be a tough tie.

“I think it does make a bit of a diffference so hopefully we can put our experience to good use because over the years we have had some mainstays of the team who have played in a lot of these games.

“There can’t be any excuses, the club are very good because they have had practice over the years, and the same with the players.

“It’s up to us to go out on the pitch and do the business.”