Comment: Are high flying Motherwell FC fated to finish third behind Rangers and Celtic?

James Scott celebrates his stunning opener for Motherwell against St Mirren last Saturday (Pic by Ian McFadyen)
James Scott celebrates his stunning opener for Motherwell against St Mirren last Saturday (Pic by Ian McFadyen)

Just before kick-off at Motherwell v St Mirren on Saturday, for reasons unknown, I had an impulse to look up how the final Scottish football league table looked exactly 100 years ago.

For the record, season 1919-1920 ended with Rangers as champions, Celtic second and Motherwell third.

After last weekend’s action, which saw Motherwell strengthen their grip on third place by winning 2-0 and Rangers overtaking Celtic by beating Hamilton 5-0 while the Hoops were shocked 2-0 at Livingston, the revised top three currently reads Rangers, Celtic, Motherwell.

Could that be how it finishes exactly a century later?

Although it’s still early days in the campaign with just eight Scottish Premiership games played, the signs are that this impressive Motherwell side could be in the upper reaches of the table for the long haul.

They led 1-0 at half-time thanks to James Scott’s 39th minute wonder strike.

This score wasn’t indicative of the Steelmen’s dominance of a first half which saw outstanding Saints keeper Vaclav Hladky make no fewer than four saves.

’Well gaffer Stephen Robinson revealed post match that Scotland manager Steve Clarke had phoned him on Friday night to discuss some of Motherwell’s top players.

Robbo said: “I had a really good chat with Steve, he’s a super manager.

“I have so much respect for what he did at Killie.

“I’m sure given the time he will turn Scotland around, there’s no better man.

“Steve does his due diligence, he’s watched our players anyway, Allan Campbell, Declan Gallagher, Liam Polworth.

“First half (against St Mirren) was our best performance of the season, very, very good, pleasing on the eye.

“The game should have been out of sight, three or four nil.

“When you don’t take them there’s obviously a bit of nervousness in the second half.”

Sure enough, St Mirren did come more into it in the second half, with Paul McGinn, Sam Foley, Kyle Magennis, Jon Obika and Ryan Flynn all missing chances before Motherwell wrapped it up in brilliant style.

A misplaced Saints pass was pounced on by substitute Chris Long who cut inside and smashed the ball home impressively with just four minutes remaining.

The standout for Motherwell on an impressive day was midfielder Liam Polworth, a summer signing from Inverness Caledonian Thistle who gaffer Robbo praised afterwards.

The Fir Park boss said: “I thought Liam Polworth was outstanding. People forget how young he is because he has played so many games.

“Maybe he went a bit stale and stayed too long at Inverness.

“He has kicked on again here though. His work-rate and energy were brilliant and it was a super performance.

“He is someone who I think can improve even more. Technically he is very good and he reminds me of David Turnbull in that they never give the ball away.

“They give you an assurance around the pitch and he has a great partnership with Allan Campbell. If he keeps improving and gets stronger then he has a chance of getting to the top of the game.”

Motherwell’s clean sheet was aided by skipper Peter Hartley who made two key interceptions late on.

“No one player ever wins the game,” Robbo added.

“You saw the depth of the squad. Peter has come in, he’s done well.

“The whole back four have done well, another clean sheet.

“As I’ve continually said, if you get clean sheets you’ve got a chance.”