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|<-Page||<-Team||Tue 01 Feb 2005 Motherwell 3 Hearts 2||Team->||Page->|
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|John Robertson||<-auth||Hugh Keevins||auth->||Douglas McDonald|
|[S Craigan 20] ;[R Foran pen 78] ;[M Fitzpatrick 120]|
|12||of 023||Mark Burchill 85 ;Hjalmar Thorarinsson 92||LC||N|
BUTCH BABES TOP OF THE FITZ PARADE
Feb 2 2005
CUP SPECIAL Motherwell 3 Hearts 2 (After extra time, 90mins: 2-2) Motherwell joy night after Jambos fightback
By Hugh Keevins
MAGIC Marc Fitzpatrick hit a last-gasp overtime goal to take Motherwell into their first cup final for 14 years ... and leave opponents Hearts feeling like the victims of a mugging.
Having earned the right to play extra time by fighting back from two goals down, the Edinburgh side had the momentum and looked a good bet to claim the first CIS Cup Final place.
But they just couldn't get the ball in the net for a third time - and the Fir Park boys could, although young Fitzpatrick left it until the 119th minute.
It seemed to be scripted that a substitute would grab the glory.
Mark Burchill and Halmar Thorarisson came off the bench to score the goals that hauled back Motherwell, who, with just 12 minutes to play, were 2-0 ahead thanks to a goal by Stephen Craigan and a Richie Foran penalty.
However, it was one of the players that Terry Butcher had kept in reserve who, quite literally, had the final say.
Defeat was especially tough on Paul Hartley, who had to overcome the natural feelings of disappointment that would have followed the collapse of his move to Celtic.
He threw himself into the game and showed any doubters among the Jambos support that he's the complete professional.
In fairness, Hartley was given a civilised reception from the moment his name was read out to the crowd.
The Hearts fans had bought out their entire allocation of 10,000 tickets for the game but the Motherwell following was slightly more modest in number.
But neither set of fans would have been enthralled by the quality of the early play.
Only a Dennis Wyness shot being deflected for a corner kick enlivened things until Hartley shaped to take a free-kick from a dangerous position and heard his name echo to the rafters.
The singing was better than the attempt at goal but there was evidence that Hearts had taken a grip of the game.
Steven Hammell's booking for a reckless challenge on Salius Mikoliunas vouched for the pressure Motherwell were under.
The Lithuanian was full of delicate touches but with a final place at stake there was a frantic edge to the general play.
The balance of power didn't stay in the same place for long, as the Fir Park side proved when they went in front against the run of play.
Craigan was the unlikely provider of the first goal in 19 minutes, heading a free-kick from Hammell past Craig Gordon from close range after losing marker Steven Pressley, who should have tracked him to the back post more efficiently.
Hearts had only themselves to blame on two counts because they had also failed to heed the warning about defensive lapses in concentration moments earlier when Scott McDonald dithered and squandered a chance to score off a headed knock-down by Foran.
The consequences of losing, or even falling behind, heightened the tension and there were niggly exchanges all over the park in between outbreaks of lawful play.
Craigan reverted to his defensive duties to block a Wyness shot and when the ball broke to Hartley he shot for the goal that would have cemented his reconstructed relationship with the supporters.
However, his elevation was more than slightly off.
Hartley still looked Hearts more likely to score as half-time drew closer.
Released by a terrific pass from Wyness, his moment appeared to have come but Gordon Marshall put the down payment on a save and team--mate Hammell completed the clearance.
Even the cultured Mikoliunas had given in to the atmosphere by then and had his name added to the referee's black book for a blatant tug on Hammell's jersey.
It was tug or be tugged by the time the game was halfway over.
Before the players could take refuge in the Easter Road dressing rooms, Pressley had got himself yellow-carded for barging into McDonald, Gordon had been forced into a good save from Hammell's free-kick and, at the other end, Foran had cleared a Wyness effort off the line.
Motherwell were going through the charmed life phase of the game.
A Mikoliunas effort was deflected just past the post before Kevin McBride was given a yellow card for crudely challenging the Lithuanian from behind.
Hearts' reaction to their predicament was to throw everything in the general direction of Marshall's goal and hope for the best but good fortune stubbornly refused to accomodate them.
Phil O'Donnell took the tally of bookings to five as the game lost the will to settle down. He was cautioned for an attempt at goal after the whistle had blown but the Motherwell midfielder might have made a legitimate complaint that he couldn't hear because of the noise level accompanying end-to-end play.
Craigan made it six bookings for his late tackle on Mikoliunas.
Scott Leitch sliced a clearance that almost turned into an own goal as it flew past Marshall's right-hand post but still the clocked ticked down on Hearts without any sign of a reward for perseverence.
Hartley's promptings were ceaseless and his cross for the Lithuanian to head over the bar might have been treated a bit more respectfully.
The miss was enough to prompt John Robertson into a double substitution, with new signing Mark Burchill replacing Wyness and Stephen Simmons going on for industrious Neil MacFarlane in the middle of the park.
There was half-an-hour left for play and Hearts' need was becoming more pressing.
What was even worse was that Marshall, son of a former Hearts keeper, was showing signs of defying the Tynecastle side in their time of need.
His next piece of work was to hold a low shot from Mikoliunas to his chest as Hartley lurked in the hope of a rebound.
Jamie McAllister tripped McDonald and referee Dougie McDonald had no option but to reward his namesake a spot-kick.
Foran took the responsibility and sent the ball in one direction as Gordon dived in the other.
But goals from players who originate from different sides of the Emerald Isle's border didn't mean that Motherwell had the luck of the Irish.
Hearts kept plugging away and cut the deficit with just five minutes to go.
Stephen Simmons flighted a free-kick into the box and substitute Burchill pounced to score with a snap shot from 16 yards.
That set up a nail-biting finale but even the Hearts fans couldn't have expected to pull the tie out of the fire.
However, they reckoned without the magic of sub Thorarisson.
The Icelander, who had replaced Joe Hamill, had them cheering their heads off when he met a Hartley cutback to bullet the equaliser past Marshall from 10 yards.
Extra time looked like being a stalemate, although it did produce a seventh booking, the cuplrit being Foran, who was promptly hauled off.
But just as thoughts were moving to who might volunteer to take a penalty in the shootout,Well struck.
The game was in the 119th minute when a counter-attack saw McDonald hold the ball up before playing in 18-year-old sub Fitzpatrick, who shot past the advancing Gordon.
Taken from the Daily Record
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