Motherwell have taken part in the League Cup since the tournament began in 1941. However we have won the trophy only once. So with the CIS Cup semi-final against Hearts fast approaching Kenny Angove takes a look back at the ‘Well's previous League Cup semi-final outings.
1944/45 ‘Well Vs Falkirk, Hampden Park.
This was the first time Motherwell had progressed from the group stages, finishing top of a group that consisted of Hearts, Dumbarton and St. Mirren. They then faced Falkirk at Hampden Motherwell running out 1-0 winners thanks to a goal from McCulloch. Unfortunately for the ‘Well they went onto face a Rangers side which had maintained a virtual monopoly over the tournament in the early years, one which despite their best efforts they couldn’t break, with the game finishing 2-1 in Rangers favour.
1950/51 ‘Well Vs Ayr, Ibrox.
After finishing top of a group consisting of Airdrie, Hearts and Partick Thistle winning five out of six (losing 4-1 to Hearts at Tyncastle). The ‘Well were pitted against Celtic in a two legged affair. The first leg was at Celtic Park and saw a terrific Motherwell performance as they ran out 4-1 winners. The return leg was a tighter affair, which Celtic won 1-0, but this was enough to ensure progression to the semi 4-2 on aggregate. Ayr United provided the opposition, in a game which was a closely fought encounter. Ayr started the better of the two sides and went ahead in only three minutes thanks to a goal from Goldie. However Motherwell fought back to take a 2-1 lead with goals from Johnny Aitkenhead and Jimmy Watson. The tie again swung in Ayr’s favour when Crawford looked to have sent Ayr on their way to the final when he netted two in a minute. But with six minutes to go outside-left Aitkenhead pulled the game level with his second and a minute later Watson too completed his brace netting the Well’s fourth. Motherwell went onto win the tournament beating Hibs 3-0 in the final thanks to goals from Kelly, Forrest and Walter.
'Well win the trophy
1951/52 ‘Well Vs Dundee, Ibrox.
Motherwell’s defence of the trophy began with them being drawn in the usual qualifying group stage alongside Partick Thistle, Stirling Albion and the previous season’s beaten finalists – Hibs. The tournament began well as once again the ‘Well progressed from the group stage having only lost one game.Things were looking good as St Johnstone were easily despatched 7-0 over two legs, making sure of another trip to the semis for the Mighty ‘Well. This time Motherwell returned to Ibrox to face Dundee.However, a fairytale defence of the cup was not to be as Dundee produced an excellent performance to run out 5-1 winners.Goals from Flavell, who netted a hat trick and one each from Christie and Patillo clinched the game. Scotland international Jim Forrest got Motherwell’s only goal.However as we all know this season is better known for a certain other cup triumph.
1954/55 ‘Well Vs East Fife, Hampden
After progressing from a group that contained St. Mirren, Kilmarnock and Raith Rovers, Motherwell beat Rangers 3-2 over two legs to set up a semi-final against the holders East Fife. Hampden once again proved to be a happy hunting ground for the ‘Well as they won 2-1 thanks to goals from Willie Kilmarnock and Alec Bain. It was actually East Fife who started the game the brighter of the two taking the lead in the third minute however Kilmarnock equalised with a 25-yard free kick. Bain who had been in prolific form in the reserves (scoring seven in one game) headed the winner after some good work by wing-half Charlie Cox and Jackie Hunter. (Here’s one for the superstitious amongst you, we faced Hearts in the final, 50 years ago last October and lost 4-2.)
1955/56 ‘Well Vs St. Mirren, Ibrox.
The first season of the legendary Ancell babes saw Motherwell take the League Cup group stage by storm winning all six games, scoring 24 goals and only conceding three the ‘Well easily brushed aside Forfar, Dundee United and Albion Rovers. However the quarter final against St Johnstone was a less sure thing being decided at the third attempt after the previous two legs drew a stalemate. The third game was played at Ibrox and Motherwell made no mistake this time comfortably winning by two goals to nil. The semi saw Motherwell return to Ibrox, this time to face St Mirren. The first game was an exciting three all draw meaning that once again a replay would be required. Parkhead was chosen as the venue. However, this time it was Motherwell who were on the wrong end of a 2-0 defeat, thanks to goals from Brown and Scotland international Gemmell.
1969/70 ‘Well Vs St Johnstone, Hampden.
East Fife, Montrose and Albion Rovers were easily brushed aside in the group stage as Motherwell dropped only one point on their way to the quarter final. The quarter final itself, in which Morton provided the opposition, was an epic battle, which required a replay and extra time after the two sides were tied at three apiece. Just when the tie looked to be heading to extra time again Jumbo Muir poked the ball over the goal line with only four minutes left. So it was the ‘Well who lined up a week later as favourites to face St Johnstone at Hampden, having already beaten them 4-1 earlier on in the season. Unfortunately the semi-final didn’t see a repeat performance as St Johnstone dominated and ran out 2-0 winners thanks to goals from McGarry and Aitken.
1986/87 ‘Well Vs Celtic, Hampden.
Motherwell saw off Arbroath, Clydebank and Forfar in the early rounds of the tournament to set up a semi-final tie against Celtic at Hampden. A crowd of 26, 541 turned out to watch what proved to be an enthralling encounter. Things began badly for Motherwell when former player Brian McClair put Celtic two up, however goals from Andy Walker and Paul Smith brought the tie level. Extra time was a goaless affair with neither side giving anything away. So the match went to penalties but it wasn’t to be for the ‘Well as Softy crashed his effort off the old square cross bar at Hampden and the shoot out ended 5-4 in Celtics favour.
1987/88 ‘Well Vs Rangers, Hampden.
The first two rounds saw Motherwell play consecutive Lanarkshire derbies, firstly at home to Airdrie and then also at home, to Albion Rovers. Both resulted in comfortable wins for the ‘Well 3-1 and 4-0 respectively. The quarter saw Hibs visit Fir Park this time and a Jamie Fairlie secured a place in the semi, where one half of the old firm once again provided the opposition. Motherwell started well and took the lead early on thanks to a strike from Paul Smith. However Rangers replied scoring two in quick succession just before the break. The first came when Stevie Kirk headed past his own keeper after a Davie Cooper cross and two minutes later Fleck capitalised on poor defending to score. Marco Falco made sure in the dying minutes when he slotted home Rangers third.
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