Motherwell survive East Fife fright night

Motherwell defender Kieran Kennedy tries to get to grips with Nathan Austin
Motherwell defender Kieran Kennedy tries to get to grips with Nathan Austin

Motherwell’s Premiership stars will have woken up this morning knowing they were in a heck of a cup-tie last night.

While East Fife’s part time players will already be out starting their day jobs, the Well players will be refreshing themselves on a day of recovery.

And it’s one they’ll need, given the way the League Two side pushed them to the very brink of elimination from the League Cup.

Ultimately, it was Well who advanced after extra time, and given the series of top flight clubs who found themselves tossed out last night, that’s really all that matters.

East Fife will now focus on the bread and butter of league business on Saturday at Hampden, but can be content with their contribution to last night’s game.

Like so often already this season, East Fife’s Nathan Austin was the star man.

The striker bullied the Motherwell backline and the standing ovation he received from BOTH sets of fans when being subbed shows how much of an impact his performance had on the visiting support.

Throughout the first 45 in particular it was the home side who posed far more of a threat up front with the visitors wasteful in possession.

It began to grate on their support and when the whistle went to end the first 45 the Premiership men trudged off to a chorus of boos.

The home side had dominated, but hadn’t scored, and you sensed Well would make them pay for that when play resumed.

It wasn’t the case, and East Fife picked up from where they left off.

They took a deserved lead when Kyle Wilkie, another of the star performers of the night, broke free from his marker and fed Austin on the edge of the box.

The Motherwell defence were too slow in closing him down and Austin picked his spot in the bottom corner.

It was no more than East Fife deserved.

The visitors were rattled but had strength, and quality, on their bench.

Scott McDonald had arrived on the scene and the Aussie helped turn the game in his side’s favour.

Motherwell remained composed in their pursuit for an equaliser, and it duly arrived.

Louis Moult picked up the ball 18 yards from goal and bent his strike past Ryan Goodfellow.

This forced the game into extra time and McDonald had a chance to put his side into the lead from eight yards but sent his strike over the bar.

He made amends a couple of minutes later when beating Goodfellow from eight yards.

The goal eventually broke what was a stubborn resistance from the League Two side and Well wrapped up the cup tie win through Lionel Ainsworth.

Motherwell boss Ian Baraclough said all that mattered as his side left Methil was that they were in the draw for the next round.

He said: “It was never going to be easy but that’s cup football for you.

“In the form we’re in, on the back of four defeats, there’s a nervousness about them (the players).

“East Fife have won each game at home and are on the up, they had nothing to lose and we had everything.

“But it’s all about the result.

“There was no panic about us and we kept on going and Louis Moult has put one in the top corner with a fantastic finish when others may have shied away from taking the shot because he’d missed one or two earlier.