Well Bury Euro Woes Back on Home Front; Hangover Cure: Motherwell Striker John Sutton Celebrates His Winner after Graham Barrett (Top Right) Had Fired Falkirk Level at 2-2 and the Combined Forces of Stephen Craigan and an Acrobatic Graeme Smith Had Thwarted the Bairns' Other Scorer, Steve Lovell
Byline: JOHN GREECHAN
MOTHERWELL 3 FALKIRK 2
THERE'S nothing quite like a good dose of SPL excitement to cure even the worst European hangover. And Motherwell certainly found the remedy for all that ailed them on a glorious autumn afternoon at Fir Park, seeing off a spirited Falkirk side to put their UEFA Cup exit behind them.
The sun shone, both teams put more emphasis on attack than defence, the referee kept proceedings flowing admirably, Bairns keeper Bobby Olejnik did a wee comedy turn and any lack of finesse was more than compensated for by the full-blooded entertainment value of this clash.
First-half goals from Jamie Murphy and Chris Porter, either side of an equaliser by Steve Lovell, gave the home side a 2-1 lead. And, despite Graham Barrett grabbing a second equaliser for the Bairns early in the second half, John Sutton's fifth SPL goal of the season settled the match.
The aftereffects of European misery were obvious off the park, at least, with Fir Park looking a lot less full than it did on Thursday night; few could blame the fans for staying away after such a disappointing evening.
As for whether the players would suffer a similar dip in enthusiasm on returning to SPL duty, a glance at the table would have guaranteed a degree of motivation. Too near the bottom to take anything lightly, yet close enough to the business end to consider themselves capable of returning to Europe next season, they had it all to play for.
McGhee made two changes from the team humbled by Nancy, dropping David Clarkson and Bob Malcolm to the bench, with Sutton and Murphy stepping into the starting XI.
Murphy took no time at all to prove himself worthy of the recall, forcing a save from Olejnik and setting up Steven McGarry for a header wide within the opening 10 minutes.
He didn't have to wait much longer to make a more tangible impact as, with 12 minutes gone, he capitalised on the quick thinking of
Keith Lasley and some shoddy Falkirk defending to open the scoring.
Lasley's quick ball over the top was clever, Jackie McNamara's attempt to clear the bouncing ball woeful, as the veteran defender jumped under the ball. Murphy, who had shown great movement to invite Lasley's pass, kept a cool head to beat Olejnik from 12 yards.
One up and passing the ball with some aplomb, it seemed as if Motherwell only needed to keep their heads and stick close to their men in order to turn this early advantage into a victory. …