Motherwell breezed to a comfortable 5-1 friendly success at Darlington on Sunday, as their pre-season preparations continued impressively, writes Craig Goldthorp.
The first half at Blackwell Meadows was key to this victory over the National League North side, with the Steelmen establishing a three-goal lead by the half-time interval.
New Spanish signing Alex Gorrin dragged a shot wide early on before Motherwell did go ahead after three minutes when Cedric Kipre tapped in from three yards after Danny Johnson had knocked back Allan Campbell’s ball into the box.
Cult hero Kipre then blocked a Darlo attempt at the other end, before ’Well spectacularly went two up when summer arrival Danny Johnson acrobatically scored with a left footed volley after Aaron-Taylor-Sinclair’s cross from the left.
The visitors were denied a third a minute later when the offside flag denied Johnson, who had tapped in after Ryan Bowman’s initial haeder had come back off the bar.
Andy Rose then headed a Liam Donnelly cross against the bar, with the keeper clawing the rebound away from Bowman.
Peter Hartley, Donnelly and Campbell then all had efforts off target but Scotland under-21 midfielder Campbell did score with a half volley on 36 minutes after Rose’s delivery from the left had been knocked down by Johnson.
The final sction of the half saw Campbell bear down on goal and have his effort blocked.
Liam Grimshaw pulled an effort wide before the hosts pulled a goal back when Saunders got the better of Taylor-Sinclair down the left and drove in unchallenged to prod the ball past keeper Trevor Carson.
As expected, there was a flurry of substitutions in the second half, with ’Well sub James Scott having a low shot beaten away by the keeper.
Bowman and Elliott Frear failed to hit the target with attempts but it was 4-1 on 80 minutes when Carl McHugh’s booming header from the halfway line set up Bowman, who chipped it delicately over the keeper and into the net.
Frear then had a ‘goal’ disallowed for offside and missed the goal with another effort, but Motherwell did add a fifth in the last minute.
Scott cut in from the right and drilled his left footed effort into the far corner.