The strangest thing about Saturday’s 1-1 Lanarkshire derby draw at The Hope CBD Stadium was being able to watch it stress free from a Motherwell perspective, writes Craig Goldthorp.
I have covered several games against Accies with the Steelmen over recent years and this was the first time I’d ever sat nerveless from the outset, with the result not actually that important to a Motherwell side sitting miles above the Scottish Premiership’s relegation zone.
Further adding to the alien nature of the proceedings was the fact that the unseasonably warm and sunny weather meant that the standard thick coat I have worn throughout the season was replaced by mere shirt sleeves.
Maybe it was a combination of these unusual factors which contributed towards Motherwell’s Jekyll and Hyde display.
The Steelmen were dominant for most of the first half, which at times was played at training session pace, as they comfortably outpassed the Accies – still embroiled in a relegation battle – on a carpet pitch put down last summer which is a big improvement on the much maligned old one.
’Well’s Tom Aldred headed powerfully against the bar after a David Turnbull corner as the visitors impressed.
And it only took them a further three minutes to open the scoring as Turnbull found space to shoot home his 10th goal of the season after a wonderful long cross from the right by Liam Grimshaw.
Double figures in the goal stakes so early in his Motherwell career is a phenomenal return for 19-year-old Turnbull, who thankfully is tied down on a contract extension until summer 2021.
Tenth placed Hamilton were so ineffective in the first half that it seemed certain they would slide to their 23rd defeat from 34 league games this season.
But Accies were much more aggressive after the break after a verbal rollicking from manager Brian Rice and Motherwell struggled to match this combative style as they produced a lacklustre display in the 20-degree heat.
Hamilton knocked on the door a few times before finally equalising when Grimshaw’s mistake was pounced on by burly substitute Marios Ogkmpoe, who took the ball around keeper Mark Gillespie and scored.
Given Accies’ greater attacking threat in the second half, a draw was probably about right although Motherwell will feel the game should have been wrapped up in the first half.
Hopefully a lesson will be learned for the remaining four league games this season – starting with Dundee at home this Saturday – that Motherwell need to retain their focus for the entire 90 minutes and not switch off as this can lead to you being punished.
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson said: “We had chances to finish them off and we didn’t take them.
“When you don’t do that after dominating the game so much it gives people a lifeline.
“They score from an individual error. Grimmy’s made a mistake; he’s been fantastic all season.
“I just thought the second half was dead and the heat played a little bit of a part in it.
“The quality wasn’t great at times on that surface.
“But you know you’re playing on that surface.
“When making 50/50 decisions you don’t take chances.
“First half was really, really good and I thought that David Turnbull at times was exquisite. He tired a little bit towards the end.”