Football: Wright at the double

Kilmarnock 4 Wright 8, 33, Little 44, Roberts 88 Motherwell 1 Coyle 24 Attendance: 8,724
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The Independent Online
Paul Wright staked a claim to be part of Scotland's World Cup squad with two wonderful goals, on a day when Motherwell were beaten as much by the horrendous weather conditions as their opponents.

That theory was underlined by Kilmarnock's final goal in the 88th minute, a 20-yard shot from substitute Mark Roberts which was swept under Motherwell goalkeeper Steve Woods by the capricious wind.

Wright though, needed no such help to underline why he is knocking on Craig Brown's door, especially given the "retirement" of Duncan Ferguson.

Kilmarnock nurture hopes that 1998 will be as successful as last year. With the Scottish Cup sitting in the boardroom, and plans to build their own school of excellence, the Rugby Park club are contemplating a second successive European campaign.

The Uefa Cup beckons, almost certainly, for the team finishing in the fourth place Kilmarnock occupied before this game, and for that reason alone manager Bobby Williamson must have been cheered by the way his side so successfully adapted to the gale force conditions.

Wright enhanced those European prospects by giving Kilmarnock the lead after just eight minutes. The little striker - who has been banging in goals since Alex Ferguson gave him his debut as a 16-year-old at Aberdeen in 1986 - profited when the Motherwell central defender Rob Newman, on loan from Norwich, headed Mark Reilly's free kick straight to his feet, the prolific Wright drilling a low right foot shot past Woods for his ninth goal of the season.

Kilmarnock should have been awarded a chance to double their tally three minutes later when the referee, Mike McCurry, ignored penalty appeals after Jerome Vareille had his heels clipped by Brian Martin.

Martin almost conceded a freak own goal soon after when a gust of wind caught his pass back, lifting it over Woods, but fortunately the ball bounced over over the unguarded goal.

Anyone left in any doubt about the part the wind would play in this game was convinced when Owen Coyle equalised for Motherwell in the 22nd minute. John Hendry's shot at goalkeeper Dragoje Lekovic was held up by the wind, enabling Coyle to race in and score.

However, Wright restored Kilmarnock's advantage and underlined his quality by striking a wonderful goal in the 33rd minute. Ray Montgomerie floated in a free kick and Wright, just outside the box, controlled the ball superbly with his chest before thundering an unstoppable 20-yard shot past Woods.

Ally Mitchell gave Kilmarnock a two-goal cushion when he scored a fine solo effort in the 44th minute, the winger drifting in from the right and curling in a superb left-foot shot.

The second half was turned into a total farce by the appalling conditions. As Motherwell's frustrations increased Coyne, McMillan and May were booked before Kilmarnock's Gus McPherson was sent off for an innocuous tussle with Hendry in the 75th minute.