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Hartley on target for Motherwell

Motherwell captain Peter Hartley netted on his first appearance in six months as the Steelmen won 2-0 at Dumbarton in the Betfred Cup.

The defender had found himself out of the team since manager Stephen Robinson moved from a three-man central defence to a back four in January.

The 31-year-old was also out of the starting line-up for Motherwell’s opening two Betfred Cup games as new signing Declan Gallagher got the nod to replace the departed Tom Aldred.

But Hartley grabbed his opportunity by heading home Motherwell’s second goal in the 76th minute to seal a third win from three Betfred Cup games.

Motherwell had scored seven goals in victories over Queen of the South and Morton while Dumbarton conceded 10 against the same two teams.

But Jim Duffy’s side held their Premiership opponents until the 42nd minute, when Christian Ilic netted on his first start.

Motherwell enjoyed the vast majority of possession but their play was slowed down by the long grass and dry pitch in hot conditions by the River Clyde.

James Scott looped a header off the top of the bar as visiting fans continued to stream into the ground 17 minutes in, and Richard Tait could not convert the striker’s deep cross.

The opener came after Liam Polworth had a shot parried. The rebound eventually fell for Ilic who stroked it into the corner. Dumbarton complained the offside flag had been raised but the assistant had stopped lifting it when the offside player did not end up going for the rebound, and the goal stood.

Jermaine Hylton soon hit the post but Dumbarton again proved resilient after the break.

Hartley removed any doubt about the result when he met Polworth’s corner and headed home from eight yards and Hylton came close three times after cutting in from the left.