Motherwell wound up their pre-season programme with a narrow 2-1 home defeat to English Championship side Leeds United at Fir Park this afternoon.
The Lanarkshire outfit led at half-time through Jamie Murphy’s well worked first-half strike but defensive lapses after the break gave Simon Grayson’s visitors another victory on their Scottish tour, following their midweek win at Falkirk.
Former Motherwell favourite Ross McCormack even contrived to miss a penalty kick in the opening 45 minutes though his return ended with victory in the end.
Steven Hammell could have given Motherwell an early advantage when he played a fine one-two with new signing Nicky Law, but he crashed his effort off the upright with goalkeeper Paul Rachubka standing helpless.
Law looks like a decent capture having joined during the summer from Rotherham United and was one of the plus points of this performance for ‘Well.
In 35 minutes, Hammell was adjudged to have felled Lloyd Sam as the Leeds winger surged into the box, though Willie Collum’s decision to point to the spot was harsh on the ‘Well defender.
Darren Randolph came to the rescue; however, by diving to his left to save McCormack’s weak effort and, within four minutes, Stuart McCall’s men were one up.
A fine piece of possession football saw Steve Jennings find Chris Humphrey on the right and he skipped past left-back Aidy White before drilling a low ball across the face of goal which Murphy converted confidently. It was the Scotland Under-21 starlet’s fourth goal in four pre-season games and he looks in good form for ‘Well’s SPL opener against Inverness Caledonian Thistle in seven days’ time.
McCall’s men looked in a good position to make it four wins out of four following victories over Morton, Dumbarton and Partick Thistle recently, but they caved in after the interval.
However, they could have gone two up before Leeds equalised when Murphy ran through the middle of the visitors’ defence in 48 minutes but Rachubka raced from goal to make the save.
Randolph then wasted his good work from earlier by dropping Max Gradel’s corner-kick in 67 minutes at the feet of Alex Bruce who tapped home easily from six yards.
Only eight minutes later, Leeds were ahead when Honduran striker Ramon Nunez waltzed past several challenges in the box before calmly slotting the ball past Randolph to seal the win.
McCall’s men, donning an anniversary strip to mark the club’s 125th year, did create some late chances as did the visitors but the Motherwell manager was pleased with his side’s display.
He said: “We created a lot of chances but we must start taking them come the start of the season. We will be practising shooting in training this week!”
Motherwell: Randolph, Hateley (Saunders 88), Craigan, Hutchinson, Hammell (Halsman 46), Humphrey, Lasley (Forbes 46), Jennings, Law, Murphy (McHugh 88), Higdon (Smith 74) Subs Not Used: Hollis, Page, Lawless.
Leeds: Rachubka (Cairns 85), Connolly (L Turner 74), Kisnorbo (Lees 65), Howson (N Turner 65), Bromby (Bruce 46), White (Parker 46), Clayton (Gradel 46), Brown (Thompson 51), Paynter (Nunez 61), Sam (Snodgrass 46), McCormack.
Referee: Willie Collum
Written by Neil Murray