County Down suffered defeat for the first time in their Premier Section Milk Cup campaign after Motherwell claimed a 2-0 win at Rugby Avenue.
Josh Moore’s 64th minute cushioned header added to Dillen Faulkner’s 39th minute opening strike to give Motherwell their first win of the tournament.
Co. Down pushed for a goal but were left to rue missed chances after substitute Timmy Browne flicked his header wide and Jack McLaughlin watched his goal-bound shot heroically blocked by a Motherwell defender.
The game exploded into life from the first whistle as both teams were frustrated not to have a goal to their names inside 10 minutes because of some fine goalkeeping. With three minutes played, Faulkner only had the Co. Down goalkeeper Oliver Fleetham to beat after linking up with James Scott, but Fleetham made himself big and parried the shot for a corner.
Four minutes down the other end, it was the county side’s turn to force the keeper into action. Matty Johnston was left puzzled when first his header and then his acrobatic reaction was somehow stopped by the Motherwell goalkeeper.
Co. Down nearly took the lead after 24 minutes played when defender Lewi Houston agonisingly steered his header from a corner over the bar. Not to be outdone, Motherwell also created their best chance through a set-piece five minutes later. A curled free-kick was met by Robbie Killpatrick but his header flashed wide. Despite the positive start, both sides cancelled each other out with the game ending goalless at half-time.
However, it only took four minutes into the second half for Motherwell to claim their first goal. Faulkner benefitted from Co. Down failure to deal with the ball in defence which sliced into the midfielder’s path and he calmly slotted the ball in.
Co. Down encountered more concerning news when striker Salou Jallow had to be carried off the pitch injured and was given pitch-side ambulance assistance.
Motherwell doubled their advantage 25 minutes after their first and sealed the win after patient build-up play outside the box found an unmarked Moore, who guided in a Jake Hastie’s back-post dinked ball.
Co. Down are still searching for their first win after drawing yesterday, and play Vendee tomorrow at Roe Mill. Meanwhile, Motherwell will be hoping to build on their victory, against O’Higgins at The Warren.