Motherwell 2 - 0 Partick Thistle: Mark McGhee pleased
They outclassed and outfought a pedestrian Partick Thistle side, who rarely threatened at the business end of the pitch and were regularly exposed at the back.
Thistle’s wretched record at Fir Park (their last victory came in January, 1996) weighed heavily on them here during a first half in which the hosts were utterly dominant.
A lack of communication between centre-back Liam Lindsay and goalkeeper Thorsten Stuckmann saw the former practically head the ball out of the latter’s hands as both men tried to claim a Scott McDonald cross either one of them could have dealt with and Louis Moult, lurking with intent, forced it over the line from a yard out.
“There were a number of errors in it,” said Thistle manager Alan Archibald. “First of all, we let the cross come in and then we don’t deal with it.
“There was a mix-up as Liam went to get it and Thorsten thought he could go and deal with it. Neither of them did and, in this league, the first goal is massive.
“It changes the whole outlook in the game and it allowed Motherwell to pick us off on the break and sit off the game.”
Thistle were all over the place, particularly in defence. Stuckmann deserves credit for denying Chris Cadden but referee Andrew Dallas did rather less well when he denied the home side a stonewall penalty after McDonald had been blatantly hauled down by Abdul Osman.
Yet the Jags were so poor that they failed to capitalise on the official’s error, conceding again almost immediately when Moult rolled the ball into McDonald’s path for the veteran to drive low behind Stuckmann from the edge of the penalty area.
The visitors improved slightly after the break but Cadden was inches away from making it 3-0 following a sweeping box-to-box move. For the most part, though, Motherwell were content to hold what they had while Thistle’s lack of a cutting edge has rarely been more evident.
Even when a Callum Booth delivery found Ade Azeez in space, the striker failed to hit the target with his free header.
“I asked our players to win their individual battles all over the park and they did that; we worked really hard from the back to the front,” said Motherwell manager Mark McGhee.
“That’s only our second clean sheet this season so that’s pleasing as well. Craig Samson has done well for us so this one’s for him.
“During the international break, when I was away for a week, Louis Moult stayed behind and did extra work with [assistant-manager] James McFadden, getting fitter and building up his strength.
“That paid off today because he looked sharper than he’s been, hungrier and more aggressive, and he was well worth his goal.”