Motherwell FC began their pre-season friendly matches with a 1-0 defeat to Crusaders at Seaview in Belfast on Wednesday night, writes Joshua Bunting.
Rory Hales' 25th minute strike proved to the difference in what overall was a typically scrappy pre-season affair.
The visitors had the first opening of the game as Jamie Semple tried his luck from distance but his effort sailed narrowly wide of goal.
Stephen Robinson’s side were dominating early on and they went close once again as Adam Livingston met a corner but he could only flick his header just wide.
Crusaders then created a fine chance as Paul Heatley was played in by Jordan Owens but his powerful effort was directed straight at Trevor Carson allowing the keeper to beat it away.
However Stephen Baxter’s side did take the lead when Ross Clarke’s cross wasn’t dealt with by the 'Well defence and Hale poked the ball home, looping over Carson and into the net.
Danny Johnson then came close to equalising ten minutes later as he weaved his way into the box before his powerful effort was superbly tipped over by Sean O’Neil in the home side's goal as the ball was set for the top corner.
In a frantic first half Crusaders were a whisker away from doubling their lead as Clarke hit a powerful free-kick over the wall and it beat Carson all ends up but the woodwork came to Motherwell’s rescue as the ball bounced over the bar.
On the stroke of the interval Carson made another save as he kept out a header from Owens who met a Clarke corner at the front post.
Crusaders started the second half the way they finished the first, on top, as Heatley skipped past David Devine but his low cross was well dealt with by Richard Tait before Owens could pounce.
Robinson thought his side had equalised on 64 minutes when Devine drove forward before slipping in James Scott but his effort was once again well saved by the legs of O’Neil in the Crusaders goal.
Scott came close once again minutes later as Jake Carroll’s low cross from the right was inches away from picking him out for a tap in.
O’Neil then was forced into action as he made a good low stop as Dean Cornelius tried to pick out Jermaine Hylton in the middle in the final chance of the game.
Motherwell first half team: Carson, Grimshaw, Gallagher, Hartley, Livingstone, Maguire, Campbell, Sloth, Long, Johnson, Semple.
Motherwell second half team: Carson,Tait, Dunne, Devine, Carroll, Donnelly, Cornelius, McAlear, Polworth, Hylton, Scott.