• Text size      
  • Send this article to a friend
  • Print this article

Hibernian 3 Motherwell 3: Twists and turns leave McCall in grip of dilemma

Bemused and enthused in equal measure, the reaction of the managers was almost as entertaining as the fare their players served up at Easter Road yesterday, with six evenly shared goals that ranged from high class to scrambled, with a sprinkling of controversial.

"What do you reckon ... a kick in the balls or a celebration?" was the question from Motherwell manager Stuart McCall as he sought to work out whether he was more disappointed that a two-goal lead had been cancelled out or satisfied that his men had then saved the match.

He admitted he would have been disappointed with the final outcome after half an hour - when his side led 2-0 - but delighted with it after 80 minutes, at which point they were 3-2 down.

Hibernian's Terry Butcher, meanwhile, accepted the offer of a cup of tea on entering the press room before adding - jokingly, we think - that it would be the last non-alcoholic drink to pass his lips for the next three days.

"It's disappointing because it was a tremendous comeback and we showed great character, but the gloss has been taken off that by the late goal," he said, blaming "schoolboy defending".

From the outset it was an odd game, Hibs starting in sprightly but toothless fashion before their more creative visitors showed how to go for the jugular.

Their opener, which came after 12 minutes, was exquisitely created, James McFadden releasing Lionel Ainsworth, whose cross from the left was fired low across the six-yard line and placed perfectly for John Sutton to meet at full tilt.

Ainsworth then trumped that by collecting the ball just outside the box, flicking it through Michael Nelson's legs as he turned and, with his next touch, curling it high around Lee Hollis and inside the goalkeeper's left post after 29 minutes.

Hibs, though, got back into the match just before the break when Jordon Forster rose, pretty much unopposed, to meet a cross from the left and the confidence taken from that was evident in both the dying stages of the first half and the early part of the second.

The comeback attempt seemed to have been just about subdued when the equaliser arrived after 76 minutes, Nelson rising at the back post to power in a header off the underside of the bar. Defenders protested that it had not crossed the line before Hollis scrambled it away, but McCall had no complaints.

Hibs then claimed the lead with a goal that was as easy on the eye as the opener. Sam Stanton's 30-yard crossfield pass sent Paul Cairney running at the Motherwell defence and he in turn timed and measured his pass perfectly for substitute Paul Heffernan to fire in an unstoppable shot from inside the penalty box on the right.

With McFadden and Ainsworth both having departed before the equaliser, Motherwell's options looked limited as they sought to save the game, but a minute into injury time Iain Vigurs produced the moment of inspiration that earned them a point.

Gathering the ball on the left, he darted infield, between and round three defenders who were unwilling to engage as he headed into the box. Vigurs then made for the byeline before sending in a cross that generated the classic stramash, Craig Moore and Chris Cadden both having attempts blocked before the ball popped up for Sutton to level things again.

Contextual targeting label: 
Football

Commenting & Moderation

We moderate all comments on HeraldScotland on either a pre-moderated or post-moderated basis.
If you're a relatively new user then your comments will be reviewed before publication and if we know you well and trust you then your comments will be subject to moderation only if other users or the moderators believe you've broken the rules

Moderation is undertaken full-time 9am-6pm on weekdays, and on a part-time basis outwith those hours. Please be patient if your posts are not approved instantly.

218090