Higdon won’t rest on laurels

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.”