5 things we spotted in Motherwell friendly vs Linlithgow Rose: Transfer areas pinpointed + life without Bair

Motherwell had a final pre-season test to navigateMotherwell had a final pre-season test to navigate
Motherwell had a final pre-season test to navigate | SNS Group
Motherwell made the journey to Linlithgow for a final pre-season clash.

Motherwell won 4-2 in their final pre-season test vs Linlithgow Rose.

The Premiership side dominated most of possession but they were trading half-chances with their Lowland League opposition. A poor clearance allowed Filip Stuparevic a chance to get a shot at goal but the referee called for a penalty after he was bundled to the deck by Greg Skinner.

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Lennon Miller stepped up and emphatically finished low into the corner. Slowly but surely after that, Motherwell’s dominance of the chances grew with runs in behind aplenty for attackers to chase. As Linlithgow pressed forward with one of their attacks though, Kofi Balmer launched into a challenge inside his own area, with another penalty awarded, Alan Sneddon dispatching low into the corner.

Harry Paton drove Motherwell forward to ensure the away lead was restored, starting the attack and setting up Moses Ebiye to fire high into the net. PJ McGiff netted for the hosts in the final 10 minutes to level up the score, as the conditions turned torrential and subs disrupted the game flow.

Ebiye and Paton made sure there was to be winner in the end, the former pouncing on a loose ball, turning his man inside-out and firing low into the corner. Then Paton finished a neat move to round off scoring. Premier Sports Cup group stage business begins at home to Edinburgh City this weekend, as competitive action rolls into view. Here are five things we spotted from a claret and amber perspective out of this friendly.

O’Donnell the centre-back

Wearing the captain’s armband again, the experienced player shuffled in one with teenager Brannan McDermott out in his natural right-wing-back role. Paul McGinn has transitioned into a centre-half in this system and should injuries grip the defence like they did at times last term, it’s handy to have someone able to fill in at centre-back. Strolled through this game and gave Kettlewell a chance to look at him in this area.

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The screener

Much of the first half, what you could hear from the one seated stand at Prestonfield was Kettlewell bellowing instructions to Davor Zdravkovski. He was given numerous orders as the man anchoring the midfield, and seemed to be the man his gaffer called out to most. It hints at the importance Kettlewell puts on his CDM to both screen the attacking phases of play from the other team, while also helping link defence to attack.

Number one unknown

It’s as clear as mud who will be the number one come the start of the season. Neither Aston Oxborough or Kriztian Hegyi have been overly tested in the last few friendlies while splitting the minutes. There could be a scenario where they split the four Premier Sports Cup group stage games between them, or perhaps it’s already been decided who’s going to get a shot at keeping the gloves week-to-week.

Recruitment areas

Kettlewell has already said in the press that he’s still looking to add to his Motherwell squad. Based off this team sheet and bearing in mind some stars who were missing, perhaps a centre-back might be on his list. There are five out-and-out central defenders at the club, and when playing three of them each week, another spare man wouldn’t go amiss. Johnny Koutroumbis’ injury could force him back into the right-back market, while Callum Slattery’s continued recovery from a knee injury could prompt an all-action midfielder move.

Life without Bair

Canada’s continued adventure at Copa America will all but definitely see Motherwell navigate the cup group stage without their talisman. With concrete interest in him, it’s not a guarantee at this stage he’ll be a Motherwell player come September. Mark Ferrie was a willing runner in behind while Stuparevic often dropped as deep as central midfield to link play. Both are different players to Theo Bair, while Moses Ebiye and Zach Robinson looked good as a pair here. There are options but tinkering continues over who’s the best fit when last term’s top striker isn’t about.

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