Motherwell 1 Dundee 1: Mark McGhee enjoys Fir Park return as Steelmen go 10 without a win

Motherwell’s wait for a Premiership win in 2022 has stretched to 10 games after former boss Mark McGhee hurt their top-six hopes.

McGhee’s Dundee side turned up with a depleted side after Covid ravaged their squad in the build-up, and it is the basement boys who will be the happier of the two teams after a share of the spoils at Fir Park.

Dundee broke the deadlock early on when Paul McMullan pounced on a Stephen O’Donnell error, but Joe Efford bagged his first goal for ‘Well after 18 minutes to earn the hosts a point that leaves them eighth in the table.

A win for Ross County sees the Staggies leapfrog Motherwell, but it still remains very tight in the race for the top six with just a point between Well in eighth and Hibs in fourth going into a break for Scottish Cup action next week.

Motherwell made two changes from the midweek defeat to Ross County as Efford and Juhani Ojala came in for Connor Shields and Jake Carroll.

Dundee were without key duo Charlie Adam and Nial McGinn, who missed out through injury, while there were a raft of enforced changes due to Covid with six players missing out after positive tests and close contact rules. There was also a Premiership debut for 20-year-old Harrison Sharp in the Dee goal.

The visitors had a couple of dangerous crosses into the box early on and after six minutes a delivery from the right looked like it would be comfortably dealt with by Steelmen skipper Stephen O’Donnell. However, his mistake led to the opening goal.

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Dundee’s Paul McMullan makes it 1-0

The Scotland international got caught in possession in his own box and Paul McMullan nipped in to curl his strike into the top corner from 10 yards out.

It was a nightmare start for Motherwell and Max Anderson’s deflected strike moments later almost made it 2-0 for McGhee’s men, but his effort flashed wide and the resulting corner came to nothing.

With 18 minutes on the clock ‘Well pulled themselves level. Some great hold up play by van Veen inside the Dundee box saw him roll a couple of defenders and try to get a shot away. His effort was blocked but it fell into the path of Efford and he swept the ball into the far corner for his first Motherwell goal.

Motherwell’s Joe Efford makes it 1-1

That gave the Graham Alexander’s men a real boost and Efford tried his luck on the edge of the box moments later, curling an effort just over the top of Sharp’s right hand corner.

The Steelmen were still looking a bit shaky at the back and when Vontae Daley-Campbell burst down the right flank, Motherwell were fortunate there were no takers for his cut-back.

And Declan McDaid almost got in down the other side when Solholm Johansen and O’Donnell both went for the same ball, fresh-airing an attempted clearance. Luckily, Liam Kelly was out sharp enough to beat McDaid to the ball.

Efford headed narrowly wide from a great pick-out at the back post from O’Donnell as they looked to edge in front but half-time arrived with the sides level. McGhee, watching from the stands amid a six-game touchline ban, will have been the happier of the two managers.

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Mark McGhee was back at Fir Park

Early in the second half Kaiyne Woolery had an effort deflected over and a teasing cross from Sean Goss had to be cleared away for a corner as the Steelmen came out with renewed vigour.

In 58 minutes Dundee fired a warning that they were still well in the game. McMullan’s cross from the right picked out McDaid and Motherwell breathed a sigh of relief as he hooked his volley narrowly wide. Shortly after a McDaid strike on the edge of the box took a wicked deflection off Jordan McGhee and Kelly was able to gather as it moved towards his left-hand corner.

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Down the other end, Mark O’Hara drilled an effort wide after a strong run forward and van Veen curled a striker narrowly wide.

But it was Dundee looking the liklier to find a winner as the game passed the hour mark and Jordan Marshall saw a 25-yard strike flash past Kelly’s left-hand post in the 65th minute.

Motherwell Boss Graham Alexander

Graham Alexander eventually turned to his bench in 76 minutes when O’Hara and Goss made way for Callum Slattery and Ross Tierney.

Motherwell were pushing to find the winner and van Veen’s strike from an acute angle forced Sharp into a smart stop at his near-post, but the resulting corner came to nothing.

Tierney was played in by van Veen with time running out but the Dee defense did well to thwart him as he burst into the box.

In stoppage time Woolery almost won it with a low drive but his effort was well-saved by Sharp.

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Motherwell’s Sean Goss challenge Dundee’s Vontae Daley-Campbell

The Steelmen’s focus will now turn towards a huge Scottish Cup quarter-final clash at home to Hibs next Sunday.

MOTHERWELL: Kelly, O’Donnell, Ojala, Lamie, Solholm Johansen, Donnelly, Goss (Tierney 76), O’Hara (Slattery 76), van Veen, Woolery, Efford.

Scorers: Efford 18


Subs not used: Fox, Carroll, Mugabi, Shaw, Cornelius, Roberts, Shields.

DUNDEE: Sharp, Kerr, Marshall, Sweeney, McGhee, Byrne, McDaid (Mulligan 82), Ashcroft, McMullan, Daley-Campbell (Chapman 57), Anderson.

Scorers: McMullan 6

Bookings: Daley-Campbell

Subs not used: Welsh, Fontaine, Robertson, Ibsen Rossi.

Ref: Andrew Dallas

HT: 1-1

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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