Motherwell Condemned To Relegation Play-Offs: How Likely Are They To Go Down?
After a 5-0 win against Saint Mirren in April, Motherwell seemed on the up and escaping relegation a great possibility. This weekend, Saint Mirren got their revenge and sent Motherwell into the play-offs.
It was a stoppage time goal which condemned Motherwell to 11th place and to the relegation play-offs – or the promotion play-offs if you’re Hibernian, Rangers or Queen of the South.
The Steelmen had taken the lead in the 75th minute from the penalty spot, seemingly taking the battle to the final day. Yet the already-relegated Saints wanted their revenge for Motherwell’s five goal Easter Monday win and Jason Naismith pounced on a defensive mix up to equalise in the 84th minute. It was game on and Saint Mirren went for the throat, with the 19-year-old PFA Scotland Goal of the Season winner Stevie Mallan unleashing a stoppage time winner in the last Saint Mirren Park Premiership match for some time.
It was a lovely bonus for Saints fans, but simultaneously a brutal blow for Motherwell. They will now fight for their Scottish Premiership life in a two-legged play-off final against whoever comes out on top out of Hibernian, Rangers and Queen of the South.
It is a very tricky situation for Motherwell – who face the prospect of a first year in 30 outside the top tier – and the question of how likely they are to go down is a tricky one to answer. The only other year we have had these play-offs in Scotland was last season, so there is little precedent to look at, and Hibernian know all too well that going into the play-offs as the top division side with no momentum against second tier teams stock full of momentum is difficult.
Motherwell, having won just five games since the turn of the year, certainly have little momentum. Given that whoever they face in the final will be there on merit, while they will be there as a result of a poor season, the Premiership side might not even be favourites. That star striker Scott McDonald faces a three-game ban – that would rule him out of the play-offs – for an elbow in the match with Saint Mirren could make it even more difficult for Motherwell boss Ian Baraclough.
Scottish Football Talking Points Of The Week:
· Ross County, meanwhile, saved their Premiership skins with their 9th win in 13. Overcoming Hamilton 2-1, the Highland side achieved safety ahead of next weekend’s final round of fixtures.
· Last week I spoke about the race for the last Europa League spot and this weekend Saint Johnstone moved a step closer to claiming it. Their unforeseen 0-0 draw with Celtic, couple with Dundee United’s 3-0 defeat at Inverness, moved the Saints one point clear. Next week Saint Johnstone and United play Aberdeen and Dundee respectively.
· Partick Thistle’s defeat against Kilmarnock means that the battle for 7th – if there even is such a thing – is won by Hamilton, who despite their loss to Ross County will be top of the bottom half come the season’s end.