Motherwell end impressive season in style

Hibernian 0 Motherwell 2

Hibernian 0 Motherwell 2

Teenager Jamie Murphy netted his first goal for Motherwell as they rounded off their impressive Clydesdale Bank Premier League season in style.

Murphy converted a penalty just after coming on at half-time to add to Simon Lappin’s early free-kick.

Motherwell produced some slick football to complete a deserved win that consigns Hibs to a sixth-placed finish.

The visiting support hailed the impressive Motherwell display at the end and implored manager Mark McGhee to reject overtures from Hearts.

While some players were no doubt looking ahead to their summer break, Motherwell goalkeeper Graeme Smith could not wait and missed the game after going on a holiday booked before the SPL season was extended.

On-loan West Brom youngster Luke Daniels replaced him while Hibernian brought in Alan O’Brien, Ross Chisholm and Paul Hanlon.

The Motherwell fans were in party mood with sombreros and beach balls reminding their hosts of their UEFA Cup qualification. And their spirits were lifted further when Lappin scored a superb fourth-minute opener.

Stephen Hughes was brought down on the edge of the box and the on-loan Norwich midfielder curled the free-kick into the top corner.

Hibs came back strongly and had two efforts cleared off the line. Brian McLean stopped Colin Nish’s effort after some slack defending before Keith Lasley prevented Rob Jones heading home from the corner.

McCormack came close from long range before Dean Shiels shot just over after Motherwell had been exposed on the break.

The chances kept coming and Nish headed well wide before Ross McCormack stretched to turn Steven Hammell’s cross into the Hibs side-netting.

Daniels then parried an effort from O’Brien who only had the keeper to beat, before the Motherwell defence converged on Shiels.

Fletcher twice headed wide from O’Brien crosses with Steven McGarry having a low drive saved after some slick passing from Well. The game was following a pattern of impressive Motherwell possession punctuated by the occasional quick break by Hibs.

McCormack and Lasley got in behind the Hibs defence after some slick moves but could not supply the finishing touch, while Nish shot straight at Daniels after a counter-attack.

Both sides made half-time changes with Lewis Stevenson replacing Chisholm and Chris Porter making way for Murphy, who celebrated his first senior goal five minutes later. Jones lost possession following a long ball and tugged McCormack’s shirt, with Charlie Richmond pointing to the spot after his assistant flagged.

The referee may have shown worse than a yellow card had it been a more meaningful encounter, but Murphy handed out his own punishment when he fired into the bottom corner.

Nish somehow shot over from six yards after O’Brien’s cross fell kindly and his attempted chip soon went the same way.

McNeil saved well from McGarry and McCormack as the visitors continued to spray the ball around.

Richmond rejected McCormack’s penalty claim after Hogg’s shoulder charge and booked Thierry Gathuessi after he tumbled in the other box.

Motherwell remained in control and McNeil parried from Smith after a mazy run by Murphy before McCormack’s powerful strike was deflected wide.

McGhee handed Robert McHugh a debut in place of McCormack, who threw his shirt into the crowd after the game.

Another player saying his farewells was Guillaume Beuzelin, who was given a standing ovation by the home support when he was replaced by John Rankin.

McHugh almost got his first goal after McLean’s through-ball but he dragged his shot just wide of the far post.

And Murphy twice came close to his second – his low drive was pushed past by McNeil before he fired past the far post from a tight angle.

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