DUNDEE United spoiled James McFadden’s homecoming with a win courtesy of Johnny Russell’s first half strike at Fir Park last night (Tuesday).
McFadden started on the bench, as Stuart McCall went with same side who hammered Inverness, and would enjoy 17 minutes on the pitch on a night the club dubbed ‘The Return of the King’.
However, despite all the hype over the ‘prodigal son’ being back home, he would have to wait and Chris Humphrey has the first effort of the match which went just wide.
Normally Tom Hateley takes all of ’Well’s direct free kicks, but perhaps in the knowledge McFadden would soon take over that role, or just because he hasn’t scored from one this season, others stepped up to the mark.
However, after Willo Flood fouled Simon Ramsden, Nicky Law was unable to find the net.
United took the lead in 17 minutes, Gary Mackay-Steven went on a mazy run and slipped in RUSSELL who steered the ball past Darren Randolph.
Kallum Higginbotham was unsuccessful in hitting back from a direct free-kick, and most of the traffic was going in the other direction.
Russell and Ryan both missed the target, Willo Flood tried from a free-kick and former ’Well defender Brian McLean shot over from a long way out.
Hateley finally had a chance of his own from a direct free-kick, but was no more successful than anyone else, nor was Stevie Hammell when he took his turn.
Radoslaw Cierzniak in the United goal denied Higginbotham twice and Stuart Carswell, while Michael Higdon came close from a Hateley corner heading just over.
Although ’Well were now creating more chances so were United and Randolph prevented Mackay-Steven, John Rankin and Russell from all doubling he advantage.
Finally in the 73rd minute came the moment the home fans were waiting for as McFadden and Bob McHugh were sent on in place of Higginbotham and Henrik Ojamaa.
However, it was Law who came closest to finding an equaliser as his shot from 20 yards had Cierzniak beaten, but grazed the bar.
With time running out Hateley and Shaun Hutchinson cleared Jon Daly and Mackay-Steven efforts off the line respectively.
This could have set up McFadden with the perfect opportunity to be the returning hero when Jon Daly fouled Higdon, but from the free-kick it wasn’t to be and ’Well went down to their first home defeat of 2013.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hammell (Francis-Angol 55), Hutchinson, Hateley, Ramsden, Law, Humphrey, Higginbotham (McFadden 73), Carswell, Ojamaa (McHugh 73), Higdon. Subs not used: Hollis, Saunders, Daley, Cummins
Dundee United: Cierzniak, Dillon, McLean, Watson, Flood (Millar 87), Rankin, Ryan, Armstrong, Russell, Daly, Mackay-Steven. Subs not used: Banks, Douglas, Souttar, Gardyne, Dow, Thomson.
Referee: Stephen Finnie.