MOTHERWELL gained sweet revenge for Hibernan’s last visit to Fir Park with a scintillating second half performance that the Edinburgh side had no answer to.
Shaun Hutchinson and Kallum Higginbotham returned to the line-up and everyone was talking about the latter as he opened his ’Well account with a spectacular bicycle kick.
Not to be overshadowed James McFadden grabbed his first since returning to the club and 31st overall in claret and amber.
Hibs put four goals past ’Well on a Friday night in October in a match filled with controversy, but the home side seemed determined to put that ghost to rest.
It was all ‘Well from kick-off as the place surged continually towards Ben Williams’s goal, with Michael Higdon heading a McFadden cross just over, and Henrik Ojamaa just failing to catch out the ’keeper at his near post.
Tom Hateley struck the foot of the post with a free kick, but Hutchinson didn’t have enough time to react and the ball hit his knee and went inches wide.
However, on 23 minutes it was Hibs who tooks the lead completely against the run of play as David Wotherspoon crossed from the right and TOM TAIWO stole in the score with a diving header.
’Well then lost captain Keith Lasley to injury, being replaced by Stuart Carswell, and almost lost a second goal as James McPake was unmarked at a Leigh Griffiths corner and should have found the target.
A brilliant challenge by Hutchinson was then all that stopped Griffiths a free run on Darren Randolph, but the brief flurry of offence was soon halted.
McFadden was becoming more and more effective and after good hold up play by Higdon he scampered through to the edge of the box, but for some reason elected to pass to his left and Higginbotham’s shot was blocked by McPake.
‘Faddy’ then sent Ojamaa clear but the Estonian shot right across the face of goal as ’Well found themselves behind at the break.
There was further bad news as playmaker Nicky Law was unable to continue with centre half Adam Cummins coming on. This meant a hasty reshuffle, but despite looking a bit makeshift quickly got back into the match.
The equaliser came three minutes after the restart as MICHAEL HIGDON claimed his 21st goal of the season, as he headed into the top corner following good persistance from McFadden to put in the cross.
After 54 minutes the hosts took a well- deserved lead through more doggedness from McFADDEN as he wriggled away from two challenges and swept the ball past Williams from the edge of the box.
In response Hibs sent on Eoin Doyle in place of Matt Done and with his first touch the Irishman had the ball in the net, but was rightly flagged offside.
On 67 minutes came a moment for HIGGINBOTHAM to remember as Carswell crossed from the right and the on-loan Huddersfield man met it with the sweetest of volleys.
They couldn’t quite relax yet though as Hibs tried to come back from two behind as ’Well had done at Easter Road in December with Wotherspoon and Griffiths both firing over and Randolph standing up big to deny Alex Harris.
Six minutes from the end HATELEY put the cap on a fine perfromance as he was teed up by McFadden at the edge of the box and his shot took a deflection off McPake to deceive Williams.
The win guaranteed Motherwell top six staus with two games before the split and going into the international break sit three points ahead of third placed Inverness in the SPL.
Motherwell: Randolph, Hammell, Law (Cummins 46), Hutchinson, Hateley, Ojamaa, Higdon, Higginbotham (Francis-Angol 83), Lasley (Carswell 28), Ramsden, McFadden. Subs not used: Hollis, Saunders, McHugh, Daley.
Hibernian: Williams, McGivern, McPake, Claros, Griffiths, Wotherspoon, Stevenson, Done (Doyle 55), Maybury, Taiwo, Robertson (Haris 68).
Referee: Willie Collum.
Tickets contest winner
WINNER of our latest contest is Kenneth Kelly, of Ferguson Drive, Motherwell, who gets tickets for the Motherwell’s game at Dundee on March 30, courtesy of Clydesdale Bank.
See next week’s issue for a chance to win tickets for the St Mirren game on April 6.