Sub Moult makes good on penalty kick premonition
IT WAS the moment that transformed the match, an unforeseen twist in fortunes for Motherwell.
Unforeseen, that is, by everyone but Louis Moult.
The Motherwell striker insists he had a penalty kick premonition sitting in his Highland hotel on the eve of Saturday’s 1-1 draw in Dingwall.
Moult, back in action after a groin operation, had only just entered the fray from the bench when he was charged with tucking away the spot-kick award.
Mystic Meg or the Highlands’ famous Brahan Seer, who resided just along the road in the Black Isle, might have struggled to see the Fir Park team’s revival coming, such was County’s apparent control.
But soon after Moult cancelled out Liam Boyce’s second-half opener, the hosts’ defender Jay McEveley saw red for a second booking – and it was backsto-the-wall from then on in for the previously dominant Dingwall side.
The Stoke-on-Trent-bred former Wrexham and Nuneaton striker has been missed by Motherwell and Mark McGhee since going under the knife in late July following two League Cup appearances, including a double haul against Annan Athletic.
“It feels like forever since I’ve played,” Moult said. “I’ve had to put my head down and work hard in the gym but the physios have been fantastic with me. Hopefully I’m stronger and quicker and ready to score more goals.
“Last night in the hotel I thought I was going to get a penalty. I don’t know why it came into my head but that’s the honest truth.
“I thought about scoring and, thankfully, it’s happened today. I don’t know why I thought that like that but it’s a weird game football. I wasn’t on the pitch for long but as soon as we got the penalty I picked up the ball and was confident of slotting it away.
“It’s not happened to me before so dramatically like that, but I thought about it a few times yesterday and it’s weird that after a couple of minutes on the field it’s come off.”
Moult’s team-mates would have been quizzing him for lottery numbers after the game but, in truth, it was County who had earlier looked destined to hit the jackpot in this match.
A fairly even first half saw the hosts hold the upper hand on chances, with the best seeing the lively Michael Gardyne shake the crossbar with a curling 20-yard attempt after 37 minutes.
After the break, home momentum built towards a 61 s t - m i nut e breakthrough.
Liam Boyce, the Northern Ireland international, claimed his sixth goal of the season – while also missing a couple of clear-cut headers – in typically clinical fashion.
Jay McEveley’s high cross from the left was well-controlled by Dutch striker Alex Schalk who fed Boyce to tuck away from 15 yards.
But just when County looked set to cement their victory – with Schalk having a goal chalked off for off-side soon after – it all went pear-shaped for the home side.
Craig Clay found Scott Mcdonald in the County box and, as the Aussie tried to nip past Scott Fox, the goalkeeper’s outstretched arm brought him tumbling.
Moult, only on after 60 minutes, stepped up confidently to beat Fox from the spot.
McEveley, who had taken a first half booking for a clattering challenge on Clay, was then sent packing for a second misdemeanour against Mcdonald after 74 minutes.
That left 10-man County in damagelimitation mode and they held on, leaving neither camp particularly satisfied.
For County, the frustration was arguably greater given earlier control in the match as they set Motherwell on the back foot. For Fox, the penalty kick culprit, frustration was heightened by his part in the Motherwell revival – with a very public verbal volley aimed his way by manager Jim McIntyre – although several decent saves softened the blame.
“It was a penalty,” Fox confessed. “[Mcdonald] got there, he’s taken a touch and I’ve had a chance to get there but he’s got around me.
“It’s one of those where if he shoots I save it, but he’s smart enough and knows what he’s doing. He’s won the penalty, and it was a penalty.”
GOING TO PLAN: Louis Moult scores from the penalty spot.