MOTHERWELL stayed in pole position to grab second in the SPL with a comfortable win at Dens Park on Saturday.
In truth the visitors barely had to get out of first gear to claim victory as the deficiencies of the league’s bottom side were all too apparent.
It took just nine minutes for ’Well to go ahead in the simplest fashion as Chris Humphrey popped the ball into the box and MICHAEL HIGDON was unmarked at the back post to nod past Steve Simonsen for his 22nd of the season.
However, sloppiness at the back almost let Dundee back into the match as Davide Grassi got in ahead of Darren Randolph to meet Ryan Conroy’s cross, but he could only head against the goalkeeper for a corner.
James McFadden completed his second 90 minutes since returning to Fir Park and while he was much quieter than in his virtuoso performance against Hibs he still showed plenty of quality.
He effortlessly dribbled forward and forced a good parry out of Simonsen from a shot with the outside of his left foot.
Henrik Ojamaa has found goals hard to come by this season and passed up a golden opportunity to make it 2-0 from Humphrey’s cutback as he scuffed the ball into Simonsen’s arms from six yards out.
’Well were perhaps lucky to keep 11 men on the pitch on 23 minutes as Shaun Hutchinson felled Nicky Riley at the edge of the box, but referee Steven McLean decided he hadn’t denied a clear goalscoring opportunity and the defender received only a yellow card.
Gary Harkins scored against ’Well earlier in the season in a Kilmarnock shirt and came close in the blue of Dundee, as Randolph had to produce a good save from his powerful shot.
The rebound ran kindly for John Baird, but his effort went right across the face of goal and agonisingly wide.
Higdon played a neat one-two with Ojamaa at the edge of the box but fired over as ’Well took their slender lead into the break.
At the start of the second half Dundee should have made their guests pay as Jim McAlister got to the byeline and found Baird, but he mishit the shot and Simon Ramsden cleared.
Then Higdon almost grabbed a second in spectacular fashion. Stevie Hammell flighted a free kick into the box, the big striker controlled the ball on his chest and volleyed on the turn, but the ball went just over.
However on 63 minutes it was 2-0 as Keith Lasley clipped the ball into the box and, like Hidgon before him, NICKY LAW was unmarked to head past Simonsen.
’Well went to sleep a little after this as Riley robbed Hammell on the right and his cross found Baird in space, but he headed over.
Higdon blew another good chance as he seemed surprised when Ojamaa’s low cross found its way to him and blasted over.
But on 78 minutes LAW rounded off the scoring as he controlled Tom Hateley’s high hanging corner at the edge of the box and curled the ball into the top corner.
Dundee: Simonsen, Benedictus, Toshney, Grassi, Easton, Riley, Davidson, McAlister, Conroy (Finnigan 68), Harkins, J Baird (Cowan 80). Subs not used: A Baird, Gallagher, McBride, Kerr, Milne.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hammell, Law, Hutchinson, Hateley, Humphrey (Higginbotham 81), Ojamaa, Higdon (McHugh 84), Lasley (Carswell 87), Ramsden, McFadden.
Referee: Steven McLean.