Well edge out Bairns~at Fir Park

Motherwell bounced back from European disappointment by edging an open SPL clash 3-2 against Falkirk at Fir Park on Sunday.

Last Updated: 05/10/08 at 17:40 Post Comment

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John Sutton's fifth goal in six SPL games proved to be the winner after Falkirk had twice pegged back their hosts. Jamie Murphy and Chris Porter put Motherwell ahead only for Steve Lovell and Graham Barrett to level.

Murphy and Sutton were restored to the starting line-up in place of Bob Malcolm and David Clarkson following Thursday night's UEFA Cup defeat by Nancy.

Motherwell played some of their best football of the season and some sloppy defending at both ends contributed to the excitement.

The teams were tied on seven points before the game but both were looking to continue moving away from the bottom reaches of the table.

Falkirk, who were unchanged, had gone four matches without defeat but it was the home side who secured back-to-back SPL wins.

Motherwell took control early on and Murphy had a deflected effort turned past the near post by Robert Olejnik following an accurate long pass by Paul Quinn.

Murphy, playing wide right in a 4-4-2 formation, then sped to the byline and crossed to the back post where Steven McGarry rose well but could not direct his header on target.

Well had regained some of the fluency largely missing so far this season and Murphy made their pressure count with a calm finish in the 12th minute. Referee Stevie O'Reilly played a good advantage after Lee Bullen fouled Sutton on the right touchline and Keith Lasley lofted the ball into Murphy's path.

The bounce deceived Falkirk defender Darren Barr and the 19-year-old took a touch before sliding the ball past Olejnik from 15 yards.

Well sat off and conceded a soft goal in the 22nd minute when Michael Higdon headed Bullen's long ball over a static defence for Lovell to slot home.

However, the Bairns were guilty of far sloppier defending a minute later as Porter put Motherwell back in front.

Olejnik came off his line to smother Quinn's long ball but deliberately let go as he slid out of the box. Bullen had turned his back on play to leave Porter to slip the ball home from a tight angle.

The goals looked likely to keep coming and Lovell headed wide from a good position after Jackie McNamara's cross found him unmarked.

Motherwell reassumed control and Olejnik pushed wide McGarry's powerful 20-yard drive following a sustained passing move.

The hosts came even closer in the final minute of the half when Bullen stretched to hook Porter's header off the line following a back-post cross by Stephen Hughes.

However, Falkirk took less than three minutes of the second period to level through Barrett. The Irishman took the ball from Scott Arfield on the edge of the box and easily turned Stephen Craigan before stroking it into the corner of the net.

But the hosts again quickly restored their advantage when Sutton rose well in the 55th minute to head McGarry's inswinging cross into the bottom corner from eight yards.

The striker almost netted moments later but Murphy's cross to the far post was inches too high.

Falkirk were pushing plenty of men forward and Lovell's 30-yard volley fizzed just wide with Graeme Smith rooted to the spot.

The visitors were pushing Motherwell back but Hughes almost played Murphy in on the counter attack only for Olejnik to come out and smother.

Smith pulled off a great save in the 76th minute when he dived to push away Higdon's close-range header following a corner from sub Neil McCann.

Falkirk were taking more risks and Sutton blasted just wide from 20 yards after another break.

Bullen headed on to the roof of the net from sub Russell Latapy's free-kick, but Motherwell looked reasonably comfortable in the closing stages and sub David Clarkson's chip was only a yard from finding the corner of Olejnik's net.

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11 St Mirren 3 -4 0
12 Ross Co 4 -7 0

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