AFTER a couple of ropey results, Motherwell more than made up for it with a hard fought victory over Celtic.
Essential tactics against either side of the Old Firm, we managed to keep the match tight for the first ten minutes and actually looked quite comfortable in possession. However, Celtic gradually grew into the game and, after our opening confidence, our defence started to look a little bit shaky. At this point I think a lot of Motherwell fans had the familiar fear!
Somehow – maybe the McFadden effect? - we managed to turn the game around and started to pressurise Celtic. Their centre back pairing of Wanyama and Rogne now looking quite uncomfortable and Michael Higdon managing to create a lot of space.
Chris Humphrey’s goal was superbly worked. Nicky Law played very intelligently and was in no hurry to get rid of the ball. He buzzed about all over the pitch all night, probably seeing this nationally televised match as a good opportunity to put himself in the shop window!
The Motherwell defence soaked up Celtic’s pressure tremendously in the second half. In previous games against Celtic, this is where a close game has turned into a hammering. Their 5000 fans, packed into the South Stand behind Darren Randolph, seem to suck goals in.
It was a rare error from Randolph, coupled with Shaun Hutchinson not picking up his man, which allowed Samaras to score. I can forgive both for this though, because Randolph produced some fine saves later on in the match and, aside from this, big Hutchy played well.
Stuart McCall must take a lot of credit for the way he set his team out. We played with a lot of flair. No matter what their critics say, going forward, Celtic boast some fantastic players, however, defensively they are quite limp at times.
I think everyone was impressed with James McFadden’s performance. Although older and probably not as nippy as he once was, he still has very quick feet and a very good footballing brain. It was very noticeable that where the rest of the players have to raise their game against Celtic, this was his usual standard of play.
Overall it was a very gutsy performance from the ‘Well against a mediocre looking Celtic team. If we can put in some more performances like this, hopefully we can retain our 2nd place spot, moving into a more comfortable lead.
Our weekend opposition, Hearts, have just parted company with yet another manager. Will the loss of John McGlynn fire them up or will they be deflated by this? Either way, Saturday’s game will be an exciting one!