By Fraser McLuggage.
Christopher Long fired Motherwell into the fifth round of the William Hill Scottish Cup – and a trip to St Mirren – as he scored his first hat-trick for the Lanarkshire club against Dundee, writes Fraser McLuggage.
Motherwell returned from their winter training camp in Tenerife looking revitalised and in the mood to continue their impressive league form and they did this as they romped to a 3-0 win in Saturday night’s success against the Championship outfit at Dens Park.
The away side dominated the first half with Long getting on the scoresheet twice.
Dundee were a much better side in the second half, Kane Hemmings and Declan McDaid coming close to pulling one back for the hosts, but Long killed the tie off in the 75th minute as his effort from 25 yards out was parried into the net by Dundee goalkeeper, Jack Hamilton.
The visitors created a few first half chances before they were able to put the ball in the net.
Jermaine Hylton did well to get down the wing and cut it back for Long but his shot hit the side netting. Richard Tait then delivered a pinpoint cross into the penalty area but Liam Polworth couldn’t get any power behind his shot on target.
James Scott was next to have a shot at goal, his curling effort from the edge of the box was narrowly wide of the post.
Long grabbed his first of the evening when he blasted a free-kick on the edge of the Dundee box.
The low driven shot took a deflection off of Graham Dorrans and sent the keeper the wrong way.
Allan Campbell then picked the ball up in his own half and went on a driving run towards goal before playing the ball into Polworth who played a lovely first-time ball into Long.
The striker took a touch and slotted the ball into the far corner.
Dundee looked a better side in the second half. They came close to pulling one back when Kane Hemmings’ header was denied by the crossbar moments after the restart.
Then McDaid came agonisingly close with a low-driven shot from the edge of the box.
Any hopes of a comeback were shattered when Long’s effort from 25 yards out was parried into the net by Hamilton, gifting the striker his third goal of the match, taking him to nine for the season.
Long could have had a fourth in the dying moments of the game.
He left the defenders trailing before cutting inside and fizzling a shot across goal.
’Well manager Stephen Robinson said: “It was comfortable in the end. I think it was a tough tie coming here at any stage.
“If you look at their 11, they’ve got a lot more Premiership games than we have and a lot more experience. We’re still a very young, naive squad. A 3-0 victory and it probably could be more. First half performance was good, deservedly went in at 2-0.
“I thought we started a little bit sloppy in the second half, gave Dundee a little bit of ownership in the game.We didn’t whow it in our passes, we went too long too early. But all in all a very professional performance and delighted to be in the hat.
“Chris Long could go to a really good level if he really believes in himself. We’re constantly on at him. I’ve got a coaching staff constantly working people all the time to make them better. And we’re trying to get Longy to believe he’s as good as we think he is.”
Motherwell Lineup: Gillespie, Tait, Gallagher, Hartley, Carroll, Polworth (Donnelly 64), O’Hara, Campbell, Hylton (Seedorf 31), Long, Scott (Ndjoli 76).
Referee: Steven McLean