Kevin van Veen treble sends Motherwell into Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals

Motherwell v Sligo Rovers – UEFA Europa Conference League – Second Qualifying Round – First Leg – Fir Park
(Image credit: Andrew Milligan)

Kevin van Veen helped himself to a hat-trick as Motherwell breezed into the Premier Sports Cup quarter-finals with a comprehensive 4-0 win over Inverness.

The Dutch striker scored for the fourth game in a row in the ninth minute with a close-range finish at Fir Park.

Caley skipper Danny Devine put through his own goal after 26 minutes before Van Veen scored from the spot in the 38th and 66th minutes to make it seven goals in six games for the commanding cinch Premiership outfit.

Steven Hammell had called for a response to their 2-1 defeat at Kilmarnock on Saturday, his first after officially taking over as boss, and he certainly got that from his team against Billy Dodds’ Championship side who were effectively out of the cup by half-time.

Both sides showed changes for the last-16 tie in Lanarkshire.

Defender Matt Penney, on loan from Ipswich, made his Motherwell debut while midfielder Ross Tierney and forward Joe Efford returned to the side with Stephen O’Donnell, Dean Cornelius and Connor Shields dropping to the bench.

For the visitors, defender Devine, winger Daniel MacKay and midfielder Nathan Shaw came in for Steven Boyd, who started on the bench, Austin Samuels, who was injured, and the suspended George Oakley.

Caley gave as good as they got in the early stages but fell behind to a well-worked Motherwell goal.

Tierney sent Efford racing down the right and when he flashed the ball across the box, after beating defender Cameron Harper twice, Van Veen confidently slammed it into the net from eight yards.

Bolstered by the breakthrough Motherwell swarmed all over the visitors looking for the second and in the 16th minute Van Veen made space for himself just outside the box but dragged his shot a yard wide.

The lively home side kept the Inverness defence on their toes but the second goal was in the post and in the 26th minute Penney drove down the left and his ball across goal was turned into his own net at the near post by the hapless Devine.

Dodds replaced Shaw with Boyd soon afterwards but Motherwell forged into a three-goal lead from the spot after Sean Goss was sent sprawling inside the box when he was tripped by Robbie Deas.

Van Veen slammed the ball in from 12 yards and the Steelmen had the game completely in their control.

Boyd tested Well keeper and captain Liam Kelly with a decent long-range drive two minutes after the restart as Inverness tried to find a way back into the game.

However, referee Kevin Clancy pointed to the spot again after judging Van Veen’s attempted cross had hit the arm of David Carson and the striker drove low past Mark Ridgers.

Jamaica winger Rolando Aarons, who re-joined Motherwell on loan from Huddersfield after a spell at Fir Park in early 2020, replaced Efford while 19-year-old Stuart McKinstry, following his loan return from Leeds, came on to make his debut in place of Blair Spittal.

Then Van Veen was given a huge ovation from the Well fans in the 76th minute when he was replaced by Shields before 16-year-old Lennon Miller, son of ex-Scotland international Lee Miller, replaced Callum Slattery to make his Well debut and Barry Maguire took over from Goss on a night of positives for Hammell.

With 10 minutes remaining Ridgers somehow saved a close-range header from Tierney.

Calum MacKay replaced older brother Daniel MacKay to make his Caley debut with minutes remaining and the game gone.

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