13 goals zero conceded, Motherwell romped to the top of their League Cup group. They rounded off their successful campaign with an easy 4-0 win over League Two Annan Athletic.
It follows on from a 3-0 away victory over Queen of the South, a 4-0 home win against Morton and a comfortable 2-0 win on their travels to Dumbarton.
Many Premiership sides have struggled against lower league opposition in the early cup openers. Motherwell aren’t one of those teams, instead showing the top tier sides how to negotiate these early season fixtures.
Plenty of Premiership sides stumbled
Plenty of the bigger teams in this section of the competition struggled at some stage during these four games.
St Johnstone and St Mirren are both out of the competition following defeats and draws to lower league opposition. Hearts are unseeded in the next round of the draw following a less than impressive group stage display.
Hibs took a couple of games to get going, drawing 1-1 with League Two Stirling Albion in their opener. Hamilton were beaten on penalties by Queen’s Park, before having to come back from two down to beat League One Airdrieonians.
Livingston were pretty comfortable throughout the four games, but they did drop points against Falkirk in their opening clash.
Ross County are the only other team to walk away from the groups other than Motherwell with a 100% record.
Motherwell handled the League Cup group stage professionally
Whilst County deserve credit for making it through in emphatic fashion, they perhaps weren’t quite as impressive as Stephen Robinson’s Motherwell.
The big thing his side did was that they took these games in the spirit they were intended. The likes of Hearts and St Johnstone fell guilty of treating it like pre-season, whereas the Steelmen played it like a competitive match.
It’s why Robinson never made sweeping changes to his team every game. There were some of course, but overall, he ensured that his players knew they had to win each game.
Only after the games were foregone conclusions did Robinson make changes from the bench. This method obviously requires the players to buy into it too, and credit to them, they did.
Christian Ilic, Jermain Hylton, James Scott and Liam Donnelly in particular have all profited from these games. Some have found a scoring touch they never knew they had, whilst others have been allowed to bed into new surroundings gently, building confidence along the way.
Overall, Motherwell should be looked towards as a guide on how to negotiate the League Cup group stages. In treating it correctly and as a competitive competition, they’ve won their group by the largest ever margin since the groups were introduced in 2016.
Hysteria ensues if you lose some of these League Cup matches. Motherwell have ensured they’re in the best shape possible ahead of their Premiership opener against Livingston.