When Motherwell lost 20 players this summer, fans could have been forgiven for thinking that the Steelmen might not hit the ground running in the new campaign.
But, if the Steelmen’s exciting second half display in Saturday’s 3-0 Betfred Cup Group E away win against awkward Championship opponents Queen of the South is anything to go by, then the current Motherwell squad is a better one than in the last campaign.
The long term absence of 2018-2019 top scorer David Turnbull, who has just undergone a knee operation, as well as the departure of Jake Hastie to Rangers, might have had some Motherwell supporters wondering if their team now might be about as prolific in front of goal as fellow leavers Curtis Main and Conor Sammon would be in attempting to hit a cow’s backside with a banjo.
But, if Saturday’s stunning debuts from the bench of new signings Sherwin Seedorf and Jermaine Hylton are a sign of things to come this season, there is no need for Motherwell fans to be worried.
In the interests of balance, let’s just say that Motherwell had been less than stellar in the first half on Queens’ artificial pitch.
After a nightmare opening when dazed striker Christopher Long had to go off almost immediately after a booted clearance by a Queens defender rattled straight into his jaw, the Steelmen had plenty of possession but created little.
James Scott did have a scoring chance but his shot was blocked by outrushing keeper Robby McCrorie after an error in the hosts’ backline.
But it was the hosts’ Stephen Dobbie who looked the most likely attacking player on either side in that first half, with two of Motherwell’s other new signings – Christian Ilic and Devante Cole – making little impact.
Dobbie firstly caused havoc with a low shot across goal which fell to Murray whose goalbound effort was cleared off the line.
Dan Pybus then blazed over for Queens before Dobbie produced a rasping drive which was palmed away brilliantly by ever impressive ’Well keeper Mark Gillespie.
If Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson gave his players a half-time rollicking, it certainly had the desired effect as his troops were much better in the second period.
Charles Dunne headed against the bar from a Jamie Semple corner before Liam Donnelly’s headed attempt from the rebound was cleared off the line.
The introduction of aforementioned wingers Seedorf and Hylton had the desired effect, as this pair caused chaos in the Queens defence for the less than 40 minutes that they were on the field.
After going 1-0 up thanks to Liam Donnelly’s penalty after Hylton had been felled in the box, the icing was put on the cake with two brilliant late goals.
Firstly Seedorf cut in from the left and curled a beauty into the corner.
That goal came in the final minute of regulation play, before an even better goal two minutes into stoppage time.
This time it was an absolute screamer from Hylton from 25 yards out which once again sent the away fans into raptures.
Delighted gaffer Robinson sang the praises of his two new wing stars afterwards.
He said: “I know just what Sherwin and Jermaine can offer. We had them to bring on with real pace and energy and that made the difference.
“The two goals were excellent.
“They were class at times and there’s now a real competition for places here.”