MOTHERWELL failed to get that Friday feeling as they suffered their biggest defeat of the season to Hibernian.
The Edinburgh side arrived at Fir Park on a bitterly cold night as the experiment into Friday night football continues, with a bumper crowd of over 5,300 suggesting it is a time popular with fans.
Stuart McCall made one change in personnel to the side who lost to Hearts the previous Sunday with Shaun Hutchinson out with a hamstring injury, but this required some shuffling of positions.
Fraser Kerr joined Simon Ramsden in central defence, Tom Hateley moved to right back and Henrik Ojamaa taking up a position in midfield.
Unfortunately the real changes Motherwell would have wanted was for referee Stevie O’Reilly and linesman Francis Andrews to have found somewhere else to be as they combined to deny the home side a clear goal and then awarded the visitors a penalty for a foul outside the box.
’Well could have taken the lead following a good passing move which ended with Charis Humphrey’s shot being cleared off the line by James McPake.
There was little question though about the validity of Hibernian’s opening goal in 28 minutes as Paul Cairney laid off to the DAVID WOTHERSPOON at the edge of the box, and with no one closing him down, fired past Darren Randolph.
Six minutes later everyone, but the men in charge believed the hosts had equalised as Steven Hammell’s header was clawed back from at least a foot over the line by Ben Williams as O’Reilly and Andrews made their first bad call of the evening.
Jamie Murphy’s long bouncing shot almost caught out Williams and Michael Higdon could only fire over following good work on the wing by Ojamaa as ’Well went in one down at the break.
Into the second half and Humphrey fired into the side netting which many in the Davie Cooper Stand thought was in and then a cleverly worked free kick between Keith Lasley and Nicky Law saw the latter fire inches over.
It seemed there was only one team going to score next and Higdon came within inches of reaching Murphy’s ball across the face of goal, which Humphrey blazed over at the back post.
Against the run of play Hibs doubled their lead in 64 minutes as LEIGH GRIFFITHS went down easily as Randolph elected to lean on the striker as to stop himself being rounded and the striker scored the resultant penalty himself.
On 71 minutes ’Well had the chance to get back in it as McPake gave away a penalty for goping over the top of Higdon, who picked himself up and crashed the spot kick against the top of the bar.
Threee minutes later and another refereeing error made it 3-0 as Hammell fouled Wotherspoon outside the box which the bumbling duo of O’Reilly and Andrews somehow believed was a penalty for GRIFFITHS to despatch.
Ten minutes from the end the game was held up for five minutes as O’Reilly limped off with a calf injury to be replaced by fourth offical Iain Brines.
This gave Hibs all the time they needed to make it 4-0 as substitute DANNY HANDLING knocked in Eoin Doyle’s pass seven minutes into injury time.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hammell, Law (Carswell 86), Hateley, Humphrey, Ojamaa (Daley 67), Higdon (McHugh 78), Murphy, Lasley, Ramsden, Kerr. Subs not used: Hollis, Francis-Angol, Hetherington, Cummins.
Hibernian: Williams, Clancy (Maybury 67), McGivern, Hanlon, McPake, Claros, Griffiths (Stevenson 88), Doyle, Cairney (Handling 93), Wotherspoon, Taiwo. Subs not used: Murdoch, Stanton, Kuqi, Harris.
Referee: Stevie O’Reilly (Iain Brines 80).