Motherwell 0, Celtic 2

Match Date: Sunday, December 21 2003
Competition: Scottish Premier League
Attendance: 10,513
Motherwell Team (4-4-2):

Marshall, Quinn, Corrigan, Craigan, Hammell, Lasley, Adams, Leitch (Dair 76), Pearson, Burns, Clarkson
Subs not used: Corr, Fagan, Wright, Fitzpatrick.

Booked: Craigan, Lasley.


Motherwell  0     Celtic  2

A SUBSTANTIALLY IMPROVED MOTHERWELL Gave their more illustrious visitors a good fight but failed to take anything in this match. The Fir Parkers gave away an early goal and missed a penalty but can take heart from a terrific fighting show.

The Fir Parkers attacked firstly and a foul by Varga on Burns gave Motherwell an early free kick, though Varga himself cleared the danger. Hammel then had to clear as Hartson almost found Larsson with a through ball. A cross from Thompson then created danger and it was a Craigan clearance, which rattled off Marshall before going away from goals. However, the danger remained and Motherwell's inability to clear their lines cost them dear. Thompson and Sutton combined to cross in and a rather large deflection off Leitch carried the ball to Hartson at the back post and he tapped in. Motherwell were somewhat disorganised though more solid defending certainly helped a minute later when a long Varga free kick found Sutton though Corrigan defended superbly well. They should have had a corner when Hammel forced Petrov to knock the ball behind but a goal kick was given. Lasley gathered possession and he found Pearson who in turn looked to set up Clarkson though a combination of Balde and Varga saw the ball go behind for a corner. Motherwell looked to have overcome the early setback and got behind the visiting defence again though Mjallby cleared. Burns looked to have gained space out wide when Mjallby then slipped but Referee Underhill decided it was a visiting free kick. Celtic then gained a corner when Hartson knocked the ball off Corrigan but Marshall claimed the ball when it came in. Hartson then fired in a header from a Larsson chip but again Marshall was on hand to gather. Slack defending from Corrigan gave the visitors another chance when the ball broke for Sutton and he sliced his shot wide of the target with only Marshall to beat. Sutton was then lucky to escape when he looked to aim a kick at Leitch as both players challenged for the ball. What looked like an innocuous challenge out on the wing gave Celtic a free kick when Adams was penalised for contact with Thompson though Motherwell cleared their lines. Martyn Corrigan was then forced to concede a corner as Sutton breathed down his neck. Under all sorts of pressure Marshall couldn't hold the ball but Corrigan hooked the ball away. 

Pearson and Burns then combined to carve open the visiting defence with Varga desperately knocking the ball behind. As the corner came in Hartson dithered allowing Clarkson to nick the ball away, the Welshman then fouling Clarkson inside the box but Referee Underhill decided it was a free kick and not a penalty. Derek Adams strode up and sent a fantastic effort off the far post which was swept away to safety. A minute later the Fir Parkers came close again when, following a two-footed Balde challenge on Leitch, for which he was booked, Adams curled the ball just an inch past the post with Douglas well beaten. Keith Lasley was very unlucky to be booked when he and Thompson clashed out on the wing. It looked to be momentum but thanks to the complaints of Sutton Referee Underhill decided to book the Motherwell man. Just before the half hour Motherwell had a great chance to level. As Burns saw his shot deflected wide Mjallby and Clarkson clashed and whilst it looked like minimal contact the Referee pointed to the spot. Adams took the kick but Douglas produced a fantastic save to block the ball with one hand and gather. There was then a booking for a quite blatant dive by Larsson as he leapt over Craigan inside the box. The visiting fans were demanding a free kick when Hartson fell over on the edge of the box a minute later but Craigan was adjudged to have fairly won the ball. A terrific step over by Clarkson then saw him burst into the box but he dragged his shot narrowly past with Burns clear to his inside. The visitors made a relatively early change, Larsson replaced by Miller. Motherwell kept up the attacking theme and after Leitch had passed in to Burns his lay off for Clarkson had the youngster stretching but he skewed his shot wide. Clarkson then burst into the box but it took a superb recovery from Balde to stop the attack.

Half Time     Motherwell  0     Celtic  1

Motherwell attacked early with Quinn crossing deep though Varga cleared as Clarkson threatened. Hammel and Pearson then made good ground out on the left and as Pearson slipped the ball through to Burns his cross was too close to Douglas with Clarkson ready to pounce on the spot. Miller attacked for the visitors and finding Sutton his cross in was knocked back to Marshall by Hammel. The visitors then worked the ball into the box with Thompson but he was crowded out in the centre of defence with Craigan making the important clearance. A run from Varga then took him inside the box but he elected to pass instead of shooting and the move broke down. The Fir Parkers broke upfield themselves with Hammel finding Clarkson but the cross wide to Lasley was just too strong for the midfielder to gather the ball and it ran out of play. Stevie Craigan then looked to have won the ball from Sutton who went down incredibly easily out on the wing but a free kick was given. The ball came in with Sutton heading down though Corrigan cleared well. Leitch broke forward linking with Adams though it took a crucial interception from Varga to deny Pearson the ball. Celtic broke upfield with Miller though Quinn tackled and the ball ran out. Miller gathered the ball just as it ran out of play but the Linesman failed to spot and he continued. Quinn was unable to stop Miller and the cross was palmed by Marshall to the feet of Smith who blazed the ball over from just 8 yards out. A foul by Miller on Pearson gave Motherwell a free kick near the half way line. Hammel played it to Corrigan, then Qunin who floated in a great ball which Varga was forced to head behind as Douglas failed to come. However, there was no challenge on Douglas as the corner came in. The visitors worked the ball forward but as Sutton played in for Petrov good defending from Motherwell ended the danger. Adams was then taken late by Petrov and there was still no card despite clear dissent from Lennon who became unnecessarily involved. Lennon was at it again when he knocked over Adams and again mouthed off at Referee Underhill but went without warning. From the free kick Hammel saw his effort deflected off Mjallby for a corner. This was cleared but soon afterwards Clarkson forced a corner off Balde. An unfortunate slip from Burns allowed Varga to clear but Burns regained possession from Hammel but disappointingly sent the ball behind. 

Thompson then made a run for the visitors to the by line but his cross was held by Marshall. Shortly afterwards, however, Petrov ran onto a through ball and made the most of a foul by Craigan, rolling about with Craigan yellow carded in the process. From 25 yards out Thompson curled the ball in with the Motherwell wall failing to jump though Marshall was unable to attempt a save seeing the ball late. Thompson way over celebrated but there was no action from the Referee. Motherwell immediately forced a corner but it came to nothing. The Fir Parkers then attacked again, Lasley finding Clarkson but he was denied by Varga and Douglas clearing their lines. Thompson then gathered a long ball to fire in an angled drive though Marshall got down well to hold the effort. Motherwell refused to lie down and Hammel crossed in for Clarkson. Although Mjallby headed out Adams volleyed the ball in and Douglas was forced to knock the ball over the bar. The ball fell to Quinn but Mjallby blocked away. Motherwell made a change, Dair replacing Leitch. Hartson and Sutton the combined on the edge of the box but Corrigan did well to clear. Miller of the visitors saw yellow when he caught Adams with a kick from the back. A long ball from Thompson gave Hartson a chance but his attempted lob was easily held by Marshall. Just before the final whistle Dair and Petrov clashed with the Bulgarian facing up to Dair though Referee Underhill decided to take no action.

Full Time     Motherwell  0     Celtic  2

Match Report by Ricky Mullen