Motherwell 1-0 Dundee United: Tony Watt screamer the difference at Fir Park

Tony Watt scores
Benjamin Siegrist was helpless as Tony Watt’s pinpoint shot sailed into the net to open the scoring

A stunning Tony Watt strike inspired a spirited Motherwell to sweep aside Dundee United in the Scottish Premiership at a rain-soaked Fir Park.

Watt’s first-time shot from the edge of the box flew into the top corner in a showing brimming with endeavour.

Kevin van Veen and Stephen O’Donnell should have made sure of the points in the second half as the heavens opened.

But, despite Barry Maguire’s late red card, Watt’s ninth of the term was enough to clinch the win.

The points for Motherwell narrow the gap on United in fourth to a single point.

Motherwell were given a taste of their own medicine on Saturday.

Recent triumphs against Aberdeen an Hearts were meted out in performances whipped in a flurry of energy and purpose. In a 3-0 defeat at Dens, though, a whirlwind start from Dundee simply blew them away.

In the swirling wind and driving Lanarkshire rain, however, Graham Alexander’s men were a force United simply couldn’t deal with in the early stages.

Motherwell smothered their visitors from the outset. Callum Slattery went close, as did Watt, who should have done better with a free header in the middle of the box. Perhaps he was just finding his range.

Moments later, he didn’t miss. A breakaway saw the ball trickle towards him on the angle at the edge of the box. Without thinking, Watt met it true, sending a shot sailing straight over Benjamin Siegrist. Fir Park’s held silence was shattered as the ball crashed into the far corner.

The opener triggered a monsoon of pressure flooding towards Siegrist’s goal. Slattery spurned a header when he should have done better, while United’s defence creaked under the intensity of Motherwell’s pressure.

Such was the bluntness of United’s forays forward, Nicky Clark was substituted on before the break in an attempt to spark the visitors into life.

Courts’ side rallied after the hour but Motherwell should have been out of sight by then. Van Veen spun on the penalty spot with poise only to lash wide. He’d fire wide later when it looked easier to hit the target.

Both sides struggled with deluge as the game wore on, with the torrent saving both sides in defence with a host of sticking crosses and balls holding up amid sprays of water.

However, Stephen O’Donnell was left staring at the opening heavens as he somehow conspired to fluff a tap in at the back post.

United were pressing hard for an equaliser at the death and they were given extra encouragement with Maguire’s second yellow for a rash challenge on Ian Harkes.

Man of the match – Tony Watt

Tony Watt
The goal would have earned him it on its own, but Tony Watt was a colossus for Motherwell with his hold-up play and experience.

What did we learn?

When Motherwell click, boy, do they click.

Alexander described wins over Hearts and Aberdeen as some of the best showings of his tenure, but this one was up there with the best of them.

Courts’ side have earned plenty of plaudits this season but they just couldn’t cope with Motherwell’s intensity. Watt was tormentor-in-chief. His goal was a blockbuster, and he continues to show his savviness for the Fir Park club. It was a streetwise performance from the former Scotland cap.

For United, Courts will be alarmed at how impotent his side were at Fir Park. Aside from a tame effort in the opening moments, they did not lay a soggy glove on Motherwell, who now have them in their sights in the league table.

It’s just now one win in six for United, with the significant test of Celtic up next.

What’s next?

Motherwell travel to face Hibernian on Saturday (15:00 GMT), while United are in action the following day when they welcome Celtic (12:00).

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  1. Squad number1Player nameKelly

  2. Squad number5Player nameMugabi

  3. Squad number21Player nameSolholm Johansen

  4. Squad number4Player nameLamie

  5. Squad number19Player nameMcGinley

  6. Squad number16Player nameSlattery

  7. Squad number6Player nameMaguire

  8. Squad number27Player nameGoss

  9. Squad number7Player nameWoolery

  10. Squad number9Player namevan Veen

  11. Squad number32Player nameWatt

  1. Squad number2Player nameO’Donnell

  2. Squad number3Player nameCarroll

  3. Squad number23Player nameGrimshaw

Dundee United

  1. Squad number1Player nameSiegrist

  2. Squad number22Player nameFreeman

  3. Squad number12Player nameEdwards

  4. Squad number4Player nameMulgrew

  5. Squad number33Player nameMcMann

  6. Squad number21Player nameGlass

  7. Squad number8Player namePawlett

  8. Squad number23Player nameHarkes

  9. Squad number14Player nameHoti

  10. Squad number7Player nameNiskanen

  11. Squad number27Player nameAppéré

  1. Squad number3Player nameSpörle

  2. Squad number10Player nameClark

  3. Squad number30Player nameWatson



Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Kelly
  • 5Mugabi
  • 21Solholm JohansenSubstituted forO’Donnellat 59′minutes
  • 4Lamie
  • 19McGinleyBooked at 77mins
  • 16Slattery
  • 6MaguireBooked at 82mins
  • 27GossBooked at 77mins
  • 7WoolerySubstituted forGrimshawat 89′minutes
  • 9van VeenSubstituted forCarrollat 84′minutes
  • 32Watt


  • 2O’Donnell
  • 3Carroll
  • 12Fox
  • 18Cornelius
  • 23Grimshaw
  • 28Roberts
  • 29Shields

Dundee Utd

Formation 4-1-4-1

  • 1Siegrist
  • 22Freeman
  • 12Edwards
  • 4Mulgrew
  • 33McMannSubstituted forSpörleat 75′minutesBooked at 78mins
  • 21GlassSubstituted forClarkat 42′minutes
  • 8Pawlett
  • 23Harkes
  • 14HotiBooked at 71mins
  • 7NiskanenSubstituted forWatsonat 57′minutes
  • 27Appéré


  • 3Spörle
  • 10Clark
  • 11Chalmers
  • 16Carson
  • 28Smith
  • 30Watson
  • 32Meekison

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