Motherwell needed penalty kicks to beat Greenock Morton in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup, winning 5-3 from the spot after a 1-1 draw over 120 minutes.
QPR loanee Liam Kelly stepped up to save a decisive penalty as Motherwell were pushed all the way by their Scottish Championship visitors.
Stephen O’Donnell netted with a long-range strike in the 119th minute but Morton went straight up the other end and scored through Markus Fjørtoft to send the game to penalties. O’Donnell notched the winning penalty to send the home side to face Stranraer or Hibernian in the fifth round.
Motherwell grew into the game as the first half came to a close but Morton perhaps headed in lamenting they weren’t at least ahead. While the first 45 minutes had presented few chances, the Ton had the better of them.
They could have capitalised on a misplaced pass by ‘Well captain Declan Gallagher and Robbie Muirhead’s scorpion-like kick almost provided an acrobatic opener. It was Reece Lyons’ one-on-one chance that was the best of the bunch, racing through to face Kelly, but the QPR loanee stood tall in the Motherwell goal to block.
It was a let-off for Graham Alexander’s side who rode their luck in a half where they hadn’t had a shot on target. Their new-found possession continued into the second half as Long and Devante Cole went close, producing Motherwell’s first shot on target.
Aidan McAdams in the Morton goal hadn’t made a real save of note though before the hour-mark but his defence was getting deeper. Coinciding with that was the lessening of Motherwell attacks as the game look destined for extra-time, which was the eventual outcome after a valiant Morton effort against Premiership opposition.
They were to show the same determination in the final 30 minutes too as Lewis Strapp came close with a header. But Long should have put the home side ahead after great play from Jake Hastie fed the English striker but he could only strike the post, the Rangers loanee then going for goal himself with an effort just by the post.
Heartbreak looked to come for the Ton late on as O’Donnell forced a low drive through a crowd of bodies in the final minute of extra-time into the net. But Morton went up the other end and scored a header through Fjørtoft with what was the match’s final moment.
Mark O’Hara netted Motherwell’s first penalty kick as Calvin Orsi did likewise for Morton. A collection of hard penalties down the middle followed before QPR loanee Kelly made a stop from Sean McGinty’s third Morton penalty. It was enough as O’Donnell fired his penalty home to secure Motherwell’s progression. Here are three things we learned.
This was far from Motherwell’s best night, the ‘Well under-par against lower league opposition. They struggled to get into a rhythm and looked to have got out of jail with O’Donnell’s strike. But conceding straight after summed up the night, although progression was secured in the end, which is the main thing.
If Morton can perform like this in the Scottish Championship then they give themselves every chance of surviving. Currently ninth in the table, this performance was full of heart and skill, well-disciplined throughout. They showed quality on occasion too and could easily have been ahead multiple times.
Kelly has been spoken about almost every week since his loan move from QPR and with good reason. He had to make a super stop to deny Lyons taking the lead alongside other moments of action, giving Motherwell the platform to build when they could have been behind. The Fir Park club want to keep him but it’s getting to close to need.
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