Higdon won't rest on laurels
Sun, 17 Feb 2013 15:01:00
Chelsea manager Rafa Benitez was a satisfied man after his side finally overcame some stubborn resistance from Brentford to win their FA Cup fourth round replay at Stamford Bridge.
It took 54 minutes before Juan Mata opened the scoring for the Blues against the League One side but goals from Oscar, Frank Lampard and the recalled John Terry then gave the final 4-0 scoreline a flattering look.
Benitez, whose team now travel to Middlesbrough in the fifth round, said: "Credit to them because the first half they were working very hard, but afterwards it was a question of time.
"We knew scoring first could be the difference. They would be more open and we would have more space.
'I'm pleased to score four goals and create chances. I'm really pleased with Oscar and Demba Ba did a great job keeping them busy."
The Spaniard also paid tribute to Lampard after he took his tally of goals for the club to 199.
"The team is doing well and Frank is on fire so he is scoring goals and that is good for him and good for us," he said.
Chelsea have now won three successive matches following last weekend's victory over Wigan and the Europa League defeat of Sparta Prague and Benitez is keen to keep the run going.
"In football you have to win games and for a top side it is even more important because everybody expects you to win every game," he added.
"I have said before that this is a team in transition. I think we have good players and little by little we can manage to improve the understanding between players and everyone is even better and we can continue winning games."
Higdon took his personal tally for the season against Inverness to six goals with a simple tap-in and a wonderful left-footed volley as Motherwell secured an ultimately convincing 3-0 win.
Motherwell can move five points clear in second on Tuesday if they beat Dundee United at home, and Higdon intends to keep the impressive home form going after they made it 13 points and 15 goals from five games at Fir Park.
The former St Mirren forward said: "We're in a good position and have a couple of games in hand on the teams around us.
"It's good we have a game coming up on Tuesday because we would rather play than train, especially when we are on winning form.
"We want to carry on the way we are going. We just want to go out and express ourselves, and I thought we did that with some outstanding performances."
Higdon opened the scoring on Saturday after an entertaining first half hour when he was on hand to convert Henrik Ojamaa's mis-hit shot, and Motherwell built on their lead in the opening stages of the second half.
Nicky Law burst into the box and converted after some good skill, before Higdon's first-time strike from 18 yards put the game beyond Caley Thistle in the 56th minute.
Kallum Higginbotham made his first start after being brought in when Jamie Murphy left for Sheffield United and the on-loan Huddersfield player produced a cultured display.
McCall said: "He got off to a good start, a great effort which everyone thought was in from the bench.
"He did a lot of good things, playing in a similar role to Murphy. We showed him clips of how Jamie had played up at Inverness, just in an area of a park we can try to exploit at times.
"He can play in that area just off the front and slightly to the left."
Higginbotham could potentially have competition for a place in the shape of James McFadden, although McCall played down expectations that the Scotland international could sign a contract after rejoining his former club for training.
When asked about McFadden, McCall said: "We have just won 3-0 and gone second top. James has been in training with us just like he was at the beginning of the season."
However, it is understood a more formal arrangement is a possibility and could suit both parties.
Motherwell are sure to get a lift on and off the park from the return of McFadden, who netted 32 goals for the club as a teenager, and the 29-year-old needs games to rejuvenate his career after making just three substitute appearances in his short spell with Sunderland.
Meanwhile, Inverness goalkeeper Ryan Esson vowed they would bounce back after their fifth defeat in six games.
Not for the first time in recent weeks, events conspired against Caley Thistle. Andrew Shinnie had a goal ruled out for offside when he followed up Aaron Doran's saved shot, moments before Higdon's opener.
Esson said: "We know how good a team we are. We wouldn't be where we are if we weren't a good team.
"Anybody that's writing us off is underestimating us and the character that we've got.
"You don't do some of the things we have done this year - (coming back from) 2-0 down at Hibs, 2-0 at Hearts with 10 men, 3-0 down at Dundee United - you don't do comebacks like that and not have character in your team.
"The boys are together, there is a good team spirit and we are positive."