It’s now 28 years since Dougie Arnott chose to play a crossfield pass instead of running the ball into the corner with Motherwell 3-2 up against Dundee United in injury time in an enthralling Tennent’s Scottish Cup final, writes Craig Goldthorp.
Wee Dougie’s intended pass was intercepted, United keeper Alan Main punted the ball the full length of the field and Darren Jackson headed past Ally Maxwell to make it 3-3 and take it into extra time.
Thankfully, all Motherwell followers know that there was a happy ending to that 1991 epic as Stevie Kirk later headed the extra time winner after a Davie Cooper corner to give the Steelmen their first Scottish Cup success since 1952.
And those same fans will be hoping that Motherwell’s class of 2019 can manage a similar bounce back after current player Elliott Frear – like Arnott nearly three decades ago – made a poor decision which ultimately cost his side two points against St Mirren on Saturday.
Leading 1-0 deep into stoppage time and breaking at pace with three team-mates howling for him to pass the ball inside, Frear instead produced a powder puff finish which went straight at Saints keeper Vaclav Hladky.
For Darren Jackson all those years ago, read St Mirren substitute Kyle Magennis, who shot into the top corner at the other end within a minute after the Steelmen had failed to deal with a long throw-in.
If Frear had either scored himself or passed inside for a team-mate to score, any subsequent St Mirren goal would not have stopped Motherwell taking the three points.
The significance of the number 11’s error was not lost on Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson, who told the assembled media post match: “We’ve got a situation where we’re four v two with 30 seconds left.
“We make a poor decision. And then we don’t defend a long throw so we got punished for that.
“It’s frustrating. Some of the younger players’ decisions maybe in the last five minutes when they were tired weren’t quite as good as they were.
“And then if Elliott takes the ball into the corner the game’s over.
“You live and learn by those decisions unfortunately.
“For me we dominated the whole game.
“We played a lot of football in the first half then second half we got a lot more runners in behind.
“Should be clever enough to see the game out.”
Motherwell’s frustration felt at the concession of Magennis’s late leveller was in complete contrast to the joy of seeing midfielder David Turnbull’s 13th goal of an increasingly prolific season.
Turnbull’s superb 74th minute left footed volley had the Steelmen 1-0 ahead in a match which saw them dominate possession but largely fail to create many chances against a stuffy St Mirren side desperate for points.
Boss Robinson added: “There was lots of good stuff, lots of good play.
“I think at the end of the game we had about five or six kids on the pitch.
“And perhaps maybe I shouldn’t have made those changes.
“But it wasn’t any of their faults that we didn’t win the game. We’ll keep trying to develop them, we’ll keep trying to develop the football club.
“It’s frustrating to lose a goal with the last kick of the game.
“But we’ll deal with it, pick ourselves up and be ready to go again on Saturday.”