Murphy header seals Well win

The victory moves Motherwell three points clear of Celtic in second

place. The winger headed in a Tom Hateley cross after eight minutes

but the visitors should have had the victory wrapped up before

enduring a nervy finish. Well midfielder Keith Lasley headed off

the post in the first half before Hibs goalkeeper Graham Stack made

a brilliant double save to deny both Stephen Craigan and Michael

Higdon after the break. As promised, Well manager Stuart McCall

gave a start to Steve Jennings despite the midfielder’s recent

arrest over alleged irregular betting patterns. Hibs boss Colin

Calderwood deployed the in-form Garry O’Connor up front after the

striker successfully fought against a two-match ban over

suggestions he dived to win a penalty in the recent win over St

Johnstone. The home side struggled to get out of their own half

during the opening exchanges with Motherwell’s slick passing a

factor in the away side retaining possession for long spells. It

was no surprise when McCall’s team went ahead after eight minutes

when Murphy ghosted into the box to find the net. Murphy found a

space between defenders Victor Palsson and Sean O’Hanlon to nod

Hateley’s deep cross past Stack from close range. Hibs were

struggling to get going and Stack did well to push a Steven Hammell

shot wide for a corner before then saving Tim Clancy’s near-post

header from Hateley’s corner. The Leith side had a rare sight of

goal when Junior Agogo’s shot fell to O’Connor following Craigan’s

block but the marksman hit a wild effort wide. Motherwell should

have been two ahead after 23 minutes when Hammell produced a

teasing cross that found the unmarked Lasley, but the midfielder’s

downward header came back off the post. Clearly unhappy at his

team’s first-half display, Calderwood introduced Danny Galbraith

and David Wotherspoon for Palsson and Martin Scott at the break.

Winger Galbraith’s energy in midfield seemed to make a difference

and he played his part in a half-chance for Agogo. The former

Manchester United trainee passed to Ivan Sproule and the Northern

Ireland cap sent a low drive into the box but his cross was just

out of Agogo’s reach. Nicky Law then won the ball back off

Galbraith in a move that ended with Stack saving with his feet to

deny Higdon after the striker was set up in the box by Murphy.

Motherwell looked dangerous on the counter-attack as Hibs upped

their bid for an equaliser. Higdon and Chris Humphrey exchanged

passes before the towering striker just missed the target with a

low drive from 18 yards. Stack then kept his side in the game with

an incredible double save. His one-handed block kept out Craigan’s

six-yard header from Hammell’s free-kick before he then somehow

managed to parry Higdon’s point-blank shot. From Hammell’s corner,

Higdon powered a header off the bar. For all their possession and

chances, Motherwell knew their lead was still fragile. Wotherspoon

had a free-kick from 25 yards tipped over the bar by Darren

Randolph. Galbraith then found himself in space in the box after

being teed up by Agogo but he lashed a strike into the

side-netting. Motherwell were on the back foot as the minutes

ticked by and were relieved to see Agogo drill a low drive past the

far post.