Hopes were high that Motherwell could move a step closer to emulating the class of 1991 but it wasn’t to be as Inverness triumphed 2-1 in the William Hill Scottish Cup fifth round clash at Fir Park on Saturday.
The visitors dramatically won it in stoppage time when substitute Jordan Roberts won a challenge with ’Well’s Morgaro Gomis and ran through before thumping the ball into the top left corner with his left foot.
Yet ’Well – playing an unfamiliar 4-5-1 formation which saw top scorer Louis Moult left on the bench – had started the game well.
Marvin Johnson had an 11th minute volley blocked after Josh Law’s cross from the right, before Greg Tansey’s long range free-kick at the other end was easily saved by ’Well keeper Connor Ripley.
After a minute’s applause in memory of late Motherwell fan Ben Miller, Caley almost went ahead when Ripley touched a looping Miles Storey header onto the bar at full stretch.
The hosts almost broke the deadlock on 37 minutes when lone striker Scott McDonald headed against the bar after Johnson’s cross from the left.
But it was Caley who went 1-0 up within a minute when Carl Tremarco outpaced Josh Law on the left before crossing for Storey to bundle home.
The final first half action saw ’Well youngster Chris Cadden’s long range effort saved by Owain Fon Williams.
The Steelmen should have levelled on 51 minutes when Stephen Pearson – who’s enjoyed a prolific recent scoring spell – failed to convert after brilliant wing play by Cadden on the right.
Law then stopped a certain Caley goal by blocking Storey’s shot after a Stephen McManus mistake.
And Motherwell equalised on 66 minutes when McDonald turned the ball home after Hammell’s left wing corner had been brilliantly bulleted towards goal by McManus.
Moult had been stripped and ready to come on as a sub, but the equaliser meant that he put his tracksuit back on and wasn’t introduced until the 82nd minute.
It looked set for a replay before Roberts’ late strike sickened a ’Well support which has had to endure their favourites conceding six goals in the last two minutes of games since the start of 2016.
A fair section of ’Well fans voiced their displeasure at the final whistle, with manager Mark McGhee on the end of abuse from some punters.
To show how fickle football can be, these guys would have been among those lauding McGhee as his team beat Celtic during a fantastic six-game unbeaten run in November and December.