The hard fought point Motherwell achieved in Saturday’s 0-0 draw at Kilmarnock again owed much to the talents of goalkeeper Mark Gillespie, writes Craig Goldthorp.
The 26-year-old, signed last summer from Walsall, has been virtually flawless in the 17-and-a-half games he’s played since replacing stricken Trevor Carson between the sticks in November.
Motherwell fans may have feared the worst when Carson was struck down by Deep Vein Thrombosis last autumn, and the Northern Ireland keeper will remain out until the end of the season as he recovers from a potentially fatal blood clot. The Motherwell Times wishes Carson - himself a brilliant keeper - a speedy recovery.
But 'Well supporters had no need to worry about Carson's absence affecting results, as Gillespie has proved himself to be a more than able deputy as he’s racked up six clean sheets in his 18 games as a Motherwell first teamer.
Fine stops from Rory McKenzie and Eamonn Brophy at Kilmarnock last weekend again illustrated Gillespie’s class, as Motherwell continued a fine recent resurgence which has seen them suffer only one defeat in eight games since the shock 2-1 home William Hill Scottish Cup fourth round reverse to Ross County on January 19.
And manager Stephen Robinson sounded satisfied to take a point from Rugby Park on Saturday, three days after the original clash between the sides in Ayrshire had been abandoned after 46 minutes due to heavy fog.
He said: “I think both teams had chances to win the game.
“In the first half we were the ones that tried to get it down, we tried to pass the ball well.
“I think they doubled up on our wide players every time and maybe changed their shape a little bit. But that’s a compliment to how well we’ve been doing and maybe how well we did in the first half the other night.
“We had a couple of great chances first half. Jake (Hastie) went one v one, Gboly (Ariyibi) had two great efforts and then Tom (Aldred) has had probably had the best chance of the game from the corner, but the wind just held the ball up as he went to head it in.
“It was one of those days.
“Mark at the other end had a super save and they hit the crossbar (through McKenzie’s second half shot).
“Tom Aldred was excellent; he’s playing with 12 stitches in his head.
“I thought the best player on the pitch was Alex Gorrin, I thought he was excellent.
“He controlled the game, he was the one that had a wee bit of patience and quality in the difficult conditions.
“So probably a point’s a fair result at the end of it.”
Robbo commented on the fact that Saturday’s game had finished in wild wind and rain, following the misty scenes of three days earlier.
“That’s Scotland’s weather for you isn’t it?
“It makes it all the more interesting.
“I’m not sure if there had been five or six minutes of added time what we would have done.
“Killie are a very good team. They’ve had a terrific season.
“Their back four give them a solid base to build from and they’re hard to break down.
“Both managers will look back and think what could have been if they had taken their chances.
“But listen, it’s a point. It may be a very good point for us if we’re still looking at the top six.
“This Saturday’s game (at home to Hamilton Accies) becomes a very big game.”
The eighth placed Steelmen go into the derby against Accies four points behind sixth placed Hibs in the Premiership table.