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Motherwell 3 Ross County 1 (Full Match Report)
Ross County came away from Motherwell with a 3-1 defeat on this their third ever competitive visit to Fir Park. A first-half deflected Melvin De Leeuw strike was cancelled out a John Sutton headed goal early in the second half. The same player scored again for Motherwell before Bob McHugh completed the scoring thirteen minutes from time.

Derek Adams made one change to the County starting eleven that had defeated Hearts with two late goals in Dingwall seven days previously. Unsurprisingly, Melvin De Leeuw - the scorer and provider, respectively, of both goals against the Edinburgh side - was given a starting place. As a result Ivan Sproule was dropped to the bench. The County manager opted for a more attack minded 4-4-2 formation with the Dutch player partnering Steven Ross up front.

Stuart McCall similarly chose a 4-4-2 starting formation with Estonian Henri Anier leading the line alongside John Sutton. Former County players Iain Vigurs and Paul Lawson were both given a place on the home bench.

The noisy County support of 250 or so was allocated the corner section of the Phil O’Donnell stand. They formed part of an official attendance of 4,263. The game was played in bright overhead conditions.

During the first half County were shooting away from their support towards the goal located in front of the Davie Cooper stand.

Motherwell came close to taking the lead in the second minute. Mark Brown did well to save a close range Anier shot with his legs after the home player had been set up by strike partner Sutton. Motherwell’s Simon Ramsden connected with the resultant McFadden corner taken from the left. Fortunately for County the defender’s header cleared the bar.

County’s first effort on goal came in the fourth minute when Graham Carey’s shot from 35 yards out swerved wildly over the bar. Shortly afterwards home player Francis-Angol’s diagonal shot went high over Mark Brown’s goal.

In the eighth minute County striker Steven Ross very narrowly failed to connect with a Graham Carey cross from the left at the back post area. The ex-St. Mirren man had showed some trickery to turn the home full-back inside out before controlling the ball with his chest. In the play that followed a second cross ball by Carey - from a similar position - found no takers at the back post area.

County were looking increasingly confident as they started to play some neat passing moves.

In the tenth minute Steven Ross narrowly headed over - at the back post area - after connecting with a Richard Brittain corner-kick taken from the left.

The next action came in the nineteenth minute when a speculative shot from home centre back Shaun Hutchison - from 35 yards out - was wildly ballooned over the bar.

A few minutes later referee Bobby Madden waved play on after Steven Ross was blatantly taken out of play at the edge of the D, much to the fury of the County support.

Midway through the first-half Mark Brown pulled off a terrific point blank save to thwart John Sutton’s powerful angled shot from 14 yards out. The rebounded ball fell at the feet of Henri Anier. Fortunately for County his powerful right-footed shot cleared the right hand post. A real let-off for the away side.

A couple of minutes later home keeper Lee Hollis did well to claim a Carey delivery-from a corner kick - from just under the head of Brian McLean, at close range.

County took the lead on the half-hour mark when a powerful, low shot from Melvin DE LEEUW - from inside a congested penalty box - took a wicked deflection off the leg of home centre-back Hutchinson, before diverting at pace into the net off the inside of the right-hand post. Home keeper Hollis had no chance. The goal was the end product of some good County interplay down the left channel involving Carey and Gordon, with the left-back providing the assist with a neat cut back.

Two minutes after the breakthrough County had a scare when a curled James McFadden free kick taken from the right - from 25 yards - out took a deflection off a County shoulder before being claimed by Mark Brown.

Eight minutes before half-time County had to make an enforced change with Grant Munro replacing Brian McLean. The centre-back had fallen awkwardly during an accidental off the ball contact with a home player.

In the next minute a Simon Ramsden header bounced wide of Mark Brown’s right hand post. The home defender’s diagonal header had connected with a McFadden free-kick taken from the left. Shortly afterwards another McFadden free kick - taken from 25 yards out - bounced off a County head in the defensive wall and went out for a corner kick. Ramsden got on the end of the delivery. His shot from 12 yards was skied over the bar.

Three minutes before half-time Ritchie Brittain was provided with a great chance to put County 2-0 ahead following a quick County counter-attacking move that had been started by the same player. He picked the ball up half-way inside the County defensive half, passed to Rocco Quinn, who in turn switched the ball to De Leeuw on the left. The Dutchman beat the home full back, looked up and played a perfectly weighted pass to the County captain who had continued his run. With time and space on his side Brittain blasted the ball high over the bar from about 16 yards out when it looked easier to score. A real chance.

Just before half-time James McFadden started to get mouthy, bad tempered and go eye-to-eye with Stuart Kettlewell both on and off the ball. It came as no surprise when Stuart McCall decided to hook the former Scotland hero at half-time.

At the end of the first half Rocco Quinn - who had not been involved much during that period - saw his wild shot from 25 yards clear the goal by some distance.

So at half-time County found themselves in front -in a fairly entertaining game – courteousy of their sole effort on target………………..

Lionel Ainsworth - McFadden’s direct replacement at the start of the second period - proved to have a major impact on the outcome of the game with his pace and very direct play.

County started brightly by creating three half-chances in the opening five minutes after the restart.

Melvin De Leeuw set up Rocco Quinn with a short lay off from inside the right side of the penalty box. The out-of-sorts County midfielder was caught in two minds as his low cross-cum-shot bounced harmlessly wide of the opposite post. This was followed by De Leeuw narrowly failing to get a clean connection with a Brittain cross from the right. His hooked effort at the back post area - on the half volley - was saved and held by Lee Hollis. One minute later Steven Ross shot well wide after being set up by Richard Brittain.

John SUTTON equalised in the 54th. minute when his close range header connected with a corner kick taken from the right. It proved to be too powerful for Mark Brown despite the best efforts of the County keeper to keep it out. The corner award had resulted from a low Sutton free-kick from 20 yards out that went narrowly past the right-hand post. At first referee Madden had pointed for a goal kick but changed his mind when his assistant flagged for a corner. It was unclear from our position whether Mark Brown had got a hand to it or not.

The ball broke to Sutton two minutes later after a County defending leg had nicked the ball of the toes of Anier just as the Estonian was about to shoot. This time his rushed attempt from 16 yards went well wide of the post.

This was followed by a rasping Brittain shot - from 35 yards distance – which Lee Hollis did well to parry. With Steven Ross rushing in to get to the spilled ball Hollis did well to claim the effort at the second attempt.

The home side were starting to look dangerous with the pace and flair of sub. Ainsworth causing all sorts of problems for the County defence down the attacking right flank.

Just before the hour mark the same player raced down the same side, got to the bye-line and whipped a cross towards the onrushing Anier. The Estonian’s diving header from 8 yards out went very narrowly wide of the opposite post. The County defence had been ripped open with ease.

Two minutes later Richard Brittain was set up with a short De Leeuw pass. Brittain’s shot from the right edge of the penalty box was so wide of target that it went out for a throw in at the opposite corner flag.

Shortly afterwards De Leeuw - who had looked the best County player on the day - was surprisingly replaced by Ivan Sproule.

At this stage County still looked well up for the game. Stuart Kettlewell came very close to giving County the lead in the 63rd, minute. He received a return pass from Rocco Quinn inside the left side of the penalty box. His powerful shot from an acute angle was brilliantly saved by Hollis who parried the ball away. This was followed two minutes later by a Brittain shot from 30 yards out which cleared the bar. As it turned out, that proved to be County’s final effort on goal of the game - apart from a Kettlewell shot in the last minute.

From that point onwards Motherwell dominated the game. The direct play and pace of Ainsworth, Anier and Francis-Angol - in combination with the attacking prowess and experience of Sutton - proved to be County’s downfall, as the home side went for the jugular.

John SUTTON put Motherwell ahead in the 68th. minute. He chased a ball down the middle, powered in front of the chasing County central defence and blasted a shot high into the right side of the net from 14 yards out giving Mark Brown no chance.

Just after the goal the home side brought Bob McHugh on for the tiring Anier. This proved once again to be a shrewd tactical change by Stuart McCall as Motherwell upped the gears during the final quarter.

With 20 minutes left Richard Brittain lost the ball just outside the attacking penalty box. In a lightning counter- attack Lionel Ainsworth sprinted down the right flank for 40 yards with the ball at his feet. He raced into the penalty box and unleashed a ferocious shot, which Mark Brown did really well to parry away.

Five minutes later this was followed by another counter-attack down the same side. This time Francis-Angol raced into the penalty box and cut the ball back to Sutton at the near post. The striker’s shot on the turn - at the diagonal of the six yard box - narrowly cleared the upright.

Immediately afterwards the creator of that chance was replaced by Iain Vigurs.

This was followed by the tiring Steven Ross being substituted for Gary Glen.

In the 77th. minute Motherwell went 3-1 ahead when MCHUGH got his head to a cross from the right to power into the net, as the static Scott Boyd and Mihael Kovacevic remained rooted nearby.

Rather than the home side sitting back to protect their lead they continued to attack in waves, as the shell-shocked County side appeared to totally accept defeat.

In the 80th. minute a curling McHugh shot from the left diagonal of the penalty box narrowly cleared the bar. Two minutes later Sutton had a free header at the near post area, as he made space for himself by connecting with a Hammell cross from the left. His glancing effort went narrowly wide.

Next it was Iain Vigurs turn as Brown palmed his low powerful diagonal shot from the left out for a corner.

Vigurs then became provider when Sutton once again got a free header at the near post area following the ex-County player’s delivery. His effort once again went narrowly wide.

In the last minute Stuart Kettlewell’s low powerful shot went narrowly wide of the left-hand post after he had connected with a central free-kick delivery.

Iain Vigurs had the last say two minutes into added time when his powerful rising shot from the left edge of the penalty box narrowly cleared the bar.

So on the chances created - particularly during the second half - and on the overall balance of play, County can have no complaints about losing to a very motivated and clinical home side………………….
I agree with your report totally but in the last sentence did spellchecker change cynical to clinical? I think sutton thought he was playing rugby all afternoon as Boyd was manhandled throughout the game and when he started losing the ball later in the game he lay down and was given a foul. We really need to become more streetwise as it seems referees are far too easily conned nowadays
Thanks for the report FS, excellent as ever.
As for Sutton "playing rugby" - he did this to us last season. He's big, strong and effective. The County defence has been far too easily pushed around for years and needs to be stronger. Sutton, like Mark Hughes, Chris Sutton, Shearer or Steve Bull for example use their strength well and fairly. It's a contact sport and it needs strong players to win. Boyd's only flaw is his lack of aggression and Sutton etc will exploit it every time.

(formerly named Geordieland Staggie).

Registered member since March 2003.
Good report - but have to agree with staggie34 - County could do with a Sutton type player up front, we had a wee bit of that with Wohlfarth and he was good at pulling opposition defenders out of position and allowing others into space to have attempts on goal. I was hopeful that Mustafi would provide this foil for Luckassen but we haven't really seen the best of these guys as yet.

Let's keep at it and keep chipping away and I'm sure we'll notch up points on the board - but we need to tighten up at the back - next Saturday will be a big test with Aberdeen visiting us, but we need to believe we can snatch something from the game - counter attacking would work well as they will be on the offensive from the whistle - but hopefully our players can feed of a full house at the GES!!!
Supporter Liaison Officer 

Agree with the posts above. As much as I like Boyd as a centre half it's been clear for years that he does not like going up against strong, effective centre forwards. Sutton, Parkin and various others over the years have given him huge amounts of trouble. This is why Boyd and Munro have been an effective partnership as Munro deals with the physical side of things and Boyd is the mopping up centre half.

However, this season Munro has been very poor. Sutton got away from him far too easily and lashed his shot away just before Boydy could catch him. Saying this, I haven't seen of Micic to say if he's a decent replacement for Munro and McLean looks an absolute bombscare.
(09-30-2013, 11:06 AM)Comrie Wrote: Agree with the posts above. As much as I like Boyd as a centre half it's been clear for years that he does not like going up against strong, effective centre forwards. Sutton, Parkin and various others over the years have given him huge amounts of trouble. This is why Boyd and Munro have been an effective partnership as Munro deals with the physical side of things and Boyd is the mopping up centre half.

However, this season Munro has been very poor. Sutton got away from him far too easily and lashed his shot away just before Boydy could catch him. Saying this, I haven't seen of Micic to say if he's a decent replacement for Munro and McLean looks an absolute bombscare.

How did McLean do, up until he got hurt and subbed off?
He was doing okay,we were fairly comfortable in the first half.
McLean was doing okay with Boyd. As much as I remain unconvinced by him I haven't seen enough of Saunders to rate him at centre half so at the moment I can see why Boyd/McLean is considered our strongest centre half pairing at the moment.
you might get your wish on Saturday.
Saunders took a rather nasty eye knock in U20's and his eye was shut, so he may not feature on Saturday......Klok wasn't playing either so either he's being rested for weekend bench slot, or he's out of the picture injured or otherwise? Micic does not look favourable from U20's either......again Kyle MacLeod and Tony Dingwall were good and Maatsen was also playing.....MacLeod lucky not to get sent off for a challenge on a Dundee Utd player....shows real promise though - Dundee Utd won 2:3....
Supporter Liaison Officer 


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