Higdon hat-trick secures Motherwell win

Sun, 02 Sep 17:30:09 2012

Michael Higdon's hat-trick earned Motherwell a 4-1 victory against Inverness and fired the Fir Park side to the top of the Clydesdale Bank Premier League.

Tom Hateley had opened the scoring for the hosts directly from a 10th-minute corner and Higdon netted the first of his three goals a minute later. Richie Foran reduced the deficit to 2-1 before half-time but Higdon added another two goals in eight minutes of the final quarter of the game, with Inverness seeing a late penalty saved.

Motherwell made five changes to the team which lost at Levante in the Europa League on Thursday. Starting berths were handed to Nicky Law, Hateley, Chris Humphrey, Robert McHugh and Zaine Francis-Angol, the latter three having appeared as substitutes in Spain.

Visiting captain Foran returned from suspension with Billy McKay dropping to the bench following Inverness' midweek victory at Arbroath, while in a late pre-match change, David Raven started in place of defender Simon King.

Inverness' Ross Draper had the first effort of the game, trying a shot inside two minutes which goalkeeper Darren Randolph had to dive to turn round a post. Robert McHugh responded moments later with a side-footed effort which was deflected for a corner, following Chris Humphrey's good work down the right.

Motherwell then seized control with two rapid-fire goals, beginning as Hateley put his side ahead on 10 minutes, his corner curling in at the near post. The game had barely restarted when Humphrey powered up the right wing and crossed for Higdon, who arrived in the box at pace to slam home from close range.

Inverness enjoyed several raids forward, Andrew Shinnie creating a good opportunity for David Raven, whose shot was blocked by the goalkeeper. The Highlanders reduced the deficit on 27 minutes when Foran netted a looping header from Owain Tudur-Jones' cross, the ball curling beyond Randolph at the far post.

Motherwell took the initiative after the break and saw Keith Lasley come agonisingly close with a diagonal effort seven minutes after the restart. McHugh then threw himself at a Law cross but was unable to connect just feet from the goalline, with Higdon hitting the side netting on 57 minutes.

The hosts believed they had a penalty claim on the hour when Fraser Kerr was challenged inside the box, but had to settle for a corner. Motherwell made it 3-1 on 71 minutes when Higdon intercepted a poor backpass and finished off the base of the left-hand post. Higdon completed his hat-trick in style by lashing high into the net from Henrik Ojamaa's cross.

Inverness' woes were complete two minutes later when they were awarded a penalty for Jonathan Page's foul on Foran, only for Shinnie's effort to be expertly saved by Randolph, who dived to his right to push the ball to safety.

 

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