Motherwell just about managed to get through the SFA Youth Cup 3rd round unscathed as they defeated a resilient and unyielding Cumbernauld Colts. Although Motherwell went into the match as heavy favourites and found themselves a goal to the good at halftime thanks to Jake Hastie, they faced heavy Cumbernauld pressure in the latter stages of the match and were fortunate to escape Airdrie with the win.
The opening ten minutes of the match suggested we would see a Motherwell landslide as they set up camp around the Colts penalty box. They prodded and poked at the opposition backline, playing on the edge of the 18-yard box and looking for the opportune moment to slide in a through ball or play in a cross from out wide. Ross MacLean’s cross could have been turned in by either Hastie or James Scott, but was eventually scrambled clear.
Colts couldn’t get out and the pressure was sustained. Motherwell won corner after corner, all taken short by MacLean and Tom Fry, their best effort leading to David Turnbull stinging the palms of Colts keeper Ross Turnbull.
Motherwell were set up in a 4-1-4-1 formation with Allan Campbell playing the deep lying midfielder role which seemed unnecessary from a defensive point of view in the first half but always gave his teammates the option to pass back when they couldn’t find a way forward, recycling play and keeping Well in possession while they probed at another angle. Coach Stephen Craigan was vocal in his support for defenders moving up the pitch into space, always looking to make room for a short pass and keep the ball ticking over.
The first quarter of the game was almost entirely Motherwell but they failed to take their chances and Colts looked to begin to hit them with some fast counterattacks. There was nothing too menacing in their play - they won a couple of corners but failed to test Motherwell keeper Peter Morrison - but it hinted that Colts might have something to offer in this cup tie.
However, moments before half-time the underdogs were hit with a suckerpunch. For all Well’s good passing play on the edge of the box, the breakthrough eventually came from a long ball hoofed up from the back, the Colts keeper seemed to hesitate and chose not to come for it; a mistake as Hastie ran towards it, only reaching it when it was well inside the Colts box and his powerful effort hit the back of the net despite a deflection off of Turnbull’s legs. It was the goal Well needed and came at the perfect time.