GOALS galore.

Early and dramatically late, gorgeous and scrappy, contentious and indisputably emphatic; yet such is professional sport that the message from both camps afterwards was that they would have preferred it to have been a bit duller.

Games like this may be a joy for the unaffiliated, a lively good-spirited encounter without a booking for anyone on either side, although more committed observers would clearly have preferred more robustness and less generosity from their representatives in exchange for three points rather than one.

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All the moreso because both teams had reason, at different stages, to believe they would win. Motherwell seemed set to cruise home thanks to two exquisitely constructed goals which countered Hibs' early liveliness, while the hosts' comeback looked to have earned them victory as they entered injury time leading 3-2.

Terry Butcher accused his men of "schoolboy defending"; Michael Nelson was arguably among Hibs' most culpable, yet he also contributed their crucial, if slightly disputed, equaliser and perhaps best summed up their feelings.

"You can't just be good going forward or just be good defensively, you've got to get a mix of the two and too often this season we've done one and not done the other," he said.

"We've got goals but struggled defensively or been great at the back but not seen games through by scoring. I'd take a boring 1-0 win every day of the week rather than games like this.

"It's a fine balance - be boring and keep it at 0-0 for so long that you run the risk of one goal winning the game, or should you be really purposeful going forward and blow the opposition away?

"I think '1-0 to the Hibernian' would catch on if it was happening every week. The fans would have probably gone home happier if it had been 1-0 even if it was an absolutely awful win."

Stuart McCall, the Motherwell manager, admitted he would have been disappointed by the ultimate outcome after half an hour, but relieved by it after 80 minutes.

It had looked as if he might have misjudged things in removing the creative talents of James McFadden and Lionel Ainsworth from the fray just before Nelson knocked in his equaliser, which was adjudged to have crossed the line after rebounding off the bar.

In their absence, though, Iain Vigurs provided the necessary inspiration, only to catch the mood of the day in seeking afterwards to shift the focus on to the more prosaic quality of one whose role is to deliver outcomes, heedless of style.

"Sutty doesn't get the credit he deserves. His goals sometimes go unnoticed but he has been brilliant for us this season," the midfielder said of two-goal John Sutton.

"Sometimes he's got a hard shift, especially in away games when he's up there on his own, but Lionel and Faddy managed to get him on the ball a bit more today and he's fantastic when it comes to him.

"Target men score goals all the time and that's what he does. He's not in there for his pace or to dribble past players, he's there to get his head on to things and score goals.

"We want him in between the goal posts like a good striker should be. Give me three crappy goals any time and I'll take it if it brings three points."

It seems that being a professional is all about aiming for boring wins and scoring "crappy" goals.

It is easy, of course, to see where they are coming from since the outcome offered little help either to Hibs' bid to catch St Johnstone and get into the top six or Motherwell's pursuit of second-placed Aberdeen. Yet this is also the entertainment industry and a match containing plentiful skill and character provided that in a way that, by definition, boring 1-0 wins decided by crappy goals never could.

All of which was once again rather well articulated by Nelson.

"Sometimes you get done by a slack bit of defending and sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say you got done by a brilliant piece of skill," he said of Ainsworth's goal.

"I'm disappointed with myself, but I'm big enough and man enough to put my hands up and admit he got me and I like to think I responded in the right way.

"When things like that happen it's all about how you react. The way all our players reacted to going 2-0 down was fantastic."