It’s been a tough week for the town of Motherwell with the loss of hundreds of jobs in the industry that gave the Steelmen their nickname. However, the U20 development team showed the kind of spirit and determination the locals are known for to pull off an incredible comeback from 3-1 down in the 85th minute to beat Dundee United 4-3.
Dylan Mackin’s third minute opener gave Well the perfect start, but Jordan Moore’s hat-trick had United looking comfortable and set for all three points before a simply stunning Motherwell fightback in the last five minutes. Luke Watt started the turnaround that was completed by Macklin scoring two more to claim his hat-trick and all three points for the home side.
United started the match sloppily, twice giving the ball away carelessly in defence and though Motherwell failed to capitalise the first time, the second opportunity was pounced on gratefully by Mackin to open the scoring.
A defensive mistake at the other end meant Motherwell didn’t lead for long however. Reghan Tumilty’s raking cross-field ball released Simon Murray into the box, goalkeeper Peter Morrison looked hesitant before eventually rushing out and throwing himself at the feet of the United striker who went down under the challenge and received the penalty. Moore stepped up to take it, coolly sending Morrison the wrong way.
The opening ten minutes had been mostly Motherwell, but the equaliser gave Dundee United confidence and they began to play their brand of short passing, possession football. Manager Dave Bowman could be constantly heard to be shouting “Pass! Pass! Pass!” even in situations where a cross or diagonal ball looked on as he seemed determined to instill that type of play in his side.
Playing without natural wingers, United relied on Tumilty and Jamie Robson to bomb forward as wing-backs as much as possible, overlapping Charlie Telfer and Aiden Connolly who looked to cut inside and attack through the middle alongside Ali Coote, with Jordan Moore dropping deep and playing more like an attacking midfielder than a striker. Although it meant Murray was often up front alone, he was never isolated as the midfield were always changing positions and keeping close to him. With each of them playing almost in a free role, it meant they were impossible to mark, but they always knew where to be positionally to cover for their teammates. If anything went wrong they had Brad Smith playing as a defensive midfielder and floating along the defence mopping up problems as they occurred.
They took the lead after one of Tumilty’s overlapping runs and crosses was met by Murray who forced a point-black reaction save from Morrison to tip it over for a corner. Coote’s corner was headed back across goal by Murray and eventually scrambled over the line by Jordan Moore.
United went in at half-time only a goal to the good despite dominating for long spells and creating several more excellent chances.