Opinion: Poor fare at Livingston v Motherwell shows plastic pitches should be scrapped

Motherwell defender Declan Gallagher squares up to Livingston's Aymen Souda on Saturday (Pic by Ian McFadyen)
Motherwell defender Declan Gallagher squares up to Livingston's Aymen Souda on Saturday (Pic by Ian McFadyen)

To quote what legendary Spurs and England striker Jimmy Greaves famously once quipped, football is indeed a funny old game.

And Saturday’s turgid 0-0 draw between Livingston and Motherwell at the Tony Macaroni Stadium (far more linked to tasty pasta than tasty passing football) bizarrely saw neither side manage an attempt on goal in the opening 31 minutes.

Motherwell Times sports reporter Craig Goldthorp

Motherwell Times sports reporter Craig Goldthorp

Not what you’re looking for in a Scottish Premiership season opener, especially considering that ’Well had earned plaudits for their exciting soccer and skilful new signings during a glorious run of four straight wins and no goals conceded to march to the Betfred Cup knockout stages.

But on this occasion it was the notorious Livingston pitch – watered pre-match – which was to prove a great leveller, with frequent explosions of several black pellets cascading into the air every time players from either side went in for a tackle.

Should this kind of surface be allowed in Scotland’s top flight? In my opinion, it’s an emphatic ‘No’.

The slow, bobbly and slippery surface played into the hands of Livi’s physical style and quite simply nullified the impact of ’Well’s new wide men Christian Ilic and Jermaine Hylton.

Ilic was so ineffective in the first half that he was hooked at the interval and replaced by Sherwin Seedorf, who actually did pretty well after coming on.

After that deadly dull opening half hour, the game did open up and both sides had chances.

From a Hylton pass, Motherwell left back Jake Carroll was put clean through on Livi keeper Ross Stewart but Carroll’s powerful shot was stopped.

Livingston’s Aymen Souda produced a brilliant overhead kick that was well saved by visiting keeper Mark Gillespie.

After Souda sent over the resultant corner from the right, home captain Alan Lithgow sent in a header which was blocked at the left post.

The hosts’ Scott Pittman was put through on goal before having his goal attempt blocked by the outrushing Gillespie. The rebound - with Gillespie well out of goal - saw Pittman try a lob towards goal which was blocked on the line.

Livi created a good chance on 51 minutes when a Lawless through pass put Souda through on Gillespie but the striker shot into the side netting.

Motherwell had a great chance to break the deadlock on 66 minutes when Richard Tait was put clean through by an Allan Campbell pass but shot weakly at Stewart.

Gillespie produced a wonderful block to deny Nicky Devlin who was put clean through on 82 minutes after a Lawless pass.

The Steelmen went close again within a minute when a fantastic Polworth cross was met by a looping Declan Gallagher header which was tipped over.

Polworth touched the ball wide after a centre by Devante Cole before Gallagher twice headed wide from Carroll corners.

Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson said: “It’s a difficult place to come to, you saw the surface. You have to deal with the physical side of the game when you play Livingston.

“They put every single ball into your box, whether it’s throw-ins, setplays or anywhere on the pitch.

“We dealt with that, we dealt with the second phase but what we didn’t do was put our stamp on the game.

“When we did we created chances but we didn’t do it often enough.”