Motherwell 0-0 Dundee United: Kevin van Veen misses penalty as managerless Tangerines earn point

Kevin van Veen missed a first-half penalty as Motherwell were held to a goalless draw against managerless Dundee United.

The Dutchman saw his 33rd-minute spot-kick saved by Carljohan Erikson as he missed out on the opportunity to become the first player to score in four successive top-flight appearances since Louis Moult, who this week returned to Fir Park on loan from Burton Albion.

Steven Hammell made no changes from the side that started the midweek 4-0 League Cup win over Inverness Caledonian Thistle, while Dundee United interim boss Liam Fox also named an unchanged side from their success away to Livingston.

Both sides were coming off good League Cup victories, with United looking to record back-to-back wins in all competitions for the first time since January.

The home side started the brightest and they had the first effort on goal. Blair Spittal used his pace to latch onto Sean Goss’ lofted pass but Eriksson easily smothered his tame effort.

Van Veen saw his 33rd-minute penalty saved

Van Veen came close to opening the scoring midway through the first half as his header from Matt Penney’s cross from the left looped onto the roof of the net.

Dundee United responded well and created their best chance of that game when Steven Fletcher’s downwards header from Dylan Levitt’s free-kick forced a smart reaction save from Liam Kelly.

Motherwell continued to probe in the visitors half, and just after Paul McGinn’s strike was cleared off the line by Ryan Edwards, they were awarded a penalty after the ball appeared to strike the hand of the United captain.

Up stepped the red-hot Van Veen, but he was denied from 12 yards as Eriksson saved well to his right in front of the raucous travelling support.

 Van Veen missed more chances in the stalemate with Dundee United
Van Veen missed more chances in the stalemate with Dundee United

The forward spurned yet another gilt-edged chance minutes later as he headed over from close range with the goal gaping.

Dundee United rallied in the second half after going in level at the interval but struggled to create clear-cut chances against a well-organised Well defence.

Stuart McKinstry provided a creative spark from the bench for the Steelmen as they looked to salvage all three points. He nearly netted his first professional goal for his boyhood club when his strike from inside the box was turned over his own bar by Charlie Mulgrew.

The Fir Park side thought they had stolen all three points with five minutes remaining. Van Veen twisted and turned inside the box before shooting towards an empty goal but Edwards made a goal-saving block to keep the visitors level, summing up the 31-year-old’s afternoon up in front of goal.

Hammell disappointed after missed chances

Motherwell manager Steven Hammell
Motherwell manager Steven Hammell

Hammell admitted there was an “overriding feeling of disappointment” as Motherwell left were to rue missed chances.

“I don’t think there was a lot between that and Inverness in midweek, which we won comfortably so I’m just disappointed,” Hammell said. “But I think when I look back and reflect on it, we played well. I thought we looked a threat, we kept possession and I enjoyed watching us play and what we were doing.

“I think the players did as well, but would I rather have played not so well and won 1-0? Yes I would have. They do enjoy it. I’m not getting carried away because we’ve drawn 0-0 but they need to enjoy it and there needs to be an element of entertainment in what we are trying to do.

“We’ve got a little bit of responsibility to the people that come and watch us to actually enjoy watching us play. I’ve been here a lot of years and I know that isn’t always the case but we need to try and do that. I felt we did that today, but the overriding feeling is just disappointment that we didn’t manage to win the game.”

Fox was delighted to take a point on the road and believes his side have turned a corner after Jack Ross’ departure on Tuesday.

 Liam Fox is managing Dundee United on an interim basis
Liam Fox is managing Dundee United on an interim basis

He said: “We are pleased with the point. I thought Motherwell were good – I’ll be honest about that. What pleased me about our performance is that we showed resilience in our box. And we had to.

“I think this will be a tough place to come over the course of this season, but the players stuck at it. They defended their box and defended their goal. For that, they deserve credit.

“If you look at the week as a whole, we have come to two difficult venues and got one victory and claimed a point on Saturday. There are things that need to get better; that have to get better. That’s where we are at.

“One of the things we have spoken about as a staff and a group of players – in the short-term – is having pride in making blocks and defending your box.

“Has a corner been turned? I can only go from the game the other night and today, and we are reasonably pleased. What happens going forward, I have no idea. All I can say is that it looked to me as if the players were doing all they could to at least take a point.”

What’s next?

Motherwell travel to Ross County next Saturday before hosting Hearts eight days later. United, meanwhile, host Hibernian before travelling to Ibrox on the following weekend.

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