Motherwell were made to work for an opening victory in the Premier Sports Cup, edging out Queen’s Park 1-0 at Firhill.

Steven Lawless put the cinch Premiership side ahead in the first half but the hosts had plenty of chances during the opening 45 minutes. Queen’s Park continued to put on pressure but Motherwell held on to go joint-top of Group F ahead of Saturday’s match with Queen of the South, Queen’s Park facing Airdrieonians.

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Lawless scored for Motherwell. (Photo by Alan Harvey/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Barry Maguire was the architect of Motherwell’s opener. He ran from midfield and a long-range shot was blocked, the move looking dead before a nice back-heel kept things alive. Tony Watt turned and passed into Lawless, who struck low with ease.

Queen’s Park had several good openings to give Graham Alexander’s side a fright, Simon Murray close to scoring twice while debutant Darragh O’Connor almost put one in his own net. Laurie Ellis’ cinch League One team looked the most likely to score next as their Premiership visitors were on the ropes.

Liam Kelly made a big save to deny Murray before the hour-mark while Maguire had another ‘Well chance shortly afterwards. The home team tired and Motherwell had more control over the last period of play. Liam Donnelly came off the bench late on to make his first Motherwell appearance since August 2020. Here are three things we learned.

Queens Parks Simon Murray in action during the Scottish Cup second round match between Queens Park and Queen of the South at Hampden Park, on January...

Murray caused several issues. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

Queen’s can play

For large spells of this game, Queen’s Park were the better team. Motherwell scored with their only clear-cut chance, former ‘Well prospect Liam Brown causing his ex-employers plenty of problems. Ellis has his team passing and moving at pace, which could be too much for teams in League One.

Needing numbers

Alexander knows his Motherwell squad is far from complete. He is still targeting at least four or five new faces while key men like Bevis Mugabi are recovering from injury. The ‘Well boss has already stated he will run with a bigger squad this year due to the potential impact of Covid-19 isolation measures. Donnelly’s return is a boost.

Maguire steps up

The Motherwell academy product has been handed the number six shirt this season as a bigger role in Alexander’s plans looks likely. Maguire certainly stepped up on his first competitive start of the season, the away side’s biggest goal-threat from defensive midfield.

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