By David Graham:
Motherwell suffered a heavy 4-0 defeat at the hands of second division Ayr United at Somerset Park in their first match of pre-season.
Stuart McCall’s ‘Steelmen’ were outplayed by a strong Ayr side that featured new signing Anthony Marenghi who had signed for the club prior to kick-off.
Ross Robertson, Michael Moffat, Martyn Campbell and David Sinclair were all on target for the home side whilst the visitors strike force of Murphy and Higdon rarely threatened trialist Ally Semple’s goal.
Motherwell retained possession comfortably in the opening exchanges with Jamie Murphy fluffing two early chances at Ayr’s goal.
Ayr were patient in their build up and this paid off when Moffat accelerated down the right wing past Steven Hammell to cross for Ross Robertson who looped a well timed header over the stranded Darren Randolph to give Ayr the lead.
Motherwell’s best chance for a goal was after Martyn Campbell clattered Michael Higdon 30 yards from goal which gave Motherwell a free-kick, well within the range of Tom Hateley. He elected to cross rather than shoot and the ball was easily gathered by Semple.
A minute later Ayr’s Austin McCann put pressure on Well’s Chris Humphrey deep into the visitors half, the Jamaican international made a howler of a decision to pass the ball back across his own box to Randolph. His pass was seized upon by Moffat who slotted home for 2-0 on the half hour mark.
Ayr gathered confidence from there on with the midfield trio of Marenghi, Sinclair and McStay running the game and not allowing Keith Lasley or Tom Hateley to contribute.
Youngster Mark Shankland did not look out of place in the Ayr first team with his pace and trickery causing Motherwell problems. His display something the Ayr management would have been particularly pleased about as they try and feed youth talent into the first-team.
The home side began the second half positively. Moffat fed the ball to full- back John Robertson who crossed for Shankland who saw his chest then volley effort deflected for a corner.
New signing Marenghi swung the ball in and Martyn Campbell met it to head home Ayr’s third of the afternoon.
After the hour mark Motherwell rang the changes to chase the game. First team player’s Randolph, Saunders, Hammel, Lasley, Hateley and Murphy made way for youngsters keen to impress Stuart McCall.
Ten minutes later the home crowd were applauding again as a sublime effort from David Sinclair whistled into the back of the Well goal. Good work by Ayr sub David Winter allowed Sinclair to position himself and curl an effort from the edge of the area into the top right corner out of reach of the flailing Lee Hollis.
Ayr made some changes with youngster’s Robbie Crawford, Alan Murdoch, Jackson Lonridge and trialist Joel Kasubandi getting a taste of the action.
By then the game was won and Motherwell were left blown away by the Ayrshire side.
Stuart McCall said: “Losing four goals is never good but they were all stoppable from our point of view so that was disappointing.
“On the larger scale first 10 -15 minutes we could have been a couple of goals up and for the attacking players we have in our side we didn’t create any problems, their goalie has had little to do.
“The grass was a little long and a bit sticky but no excuses, it was a really poor effort today.”
McCall was particularly frustrated about the amount of errors his team made.
He said: “I don’t think I’ ve been involved in a game with so many individual errors being in control, passing, crossing, it wasn’t what we were looking for.
“We will improve on that, we won’t be as poor again, attacking and defensively, and I’m sure Chris won’t make a mistake like that again.
“We have got to learn from the mistakes and learn quickly.”
Ayr United: Semple, Robertson, McCann, Campbell, Brownlie, Sinclair, Marenghi, McStay, Moffat, Shankland, Robertson.
Subs-Brown, Winters, Crawford, Murdoch, Lonridge, Kasubandi.
Motherwell: Randolph, Saunders, Ramsden, Page, Hammell, Humphrey, Hateley, Lasley, Law, Higdon, Murphy.
Subs- Hollis, Devlin, Murray, Angol, Daly, Carswell, Hetherington, Watt, Ojamma, Erwin.
Referee: Steven McLean