Nevin feels heat

Motherwell 0 Kilmarnock 0 Attendance: 9,063
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The Independent Online
PAT NEVIN has had to put up with Ken Bates in his time, so perhaps Motherwell's new signing was better prepared than anyone to cope with an occasion that was all about bluster and stubborn resistance but ultimately got everyone nowhere.

A goalless draw meant that both clubs failed to close the gap on the Old Firm, but Nevin, the one-time darling of Stamford Bridge, must have found his home debut for Motherwell as hard to get through as those meetings a decade ago.

Motherwell may seem the unlikeliest object of anyone's attention, but the club from the decaying steel town have recently attracted a millionaire, thousands of new fans and, in Nevin, British football's first player-chief executive.

Nevin's renowned PC attitude meant he took a place on the bench against Kilmarnock, whom he left just two weeks ago after bitter wrangling, but he was in good company: most of Fir Park's other seats were full.

Since John Boyle bought Motherwell last month, the entrepreneur has been using the cut-price offers that made him a success in the travel industry. The two previous home games drew crowds of 12,000, double last season's average, and this tie saw as many bathing in the Lanarkshire sunshine.

They almost saw their side go behind in the 18th minute as the former Aston Villa defender Shaun Teale gifted the ball to Ian Durrant, who quickly fed Paul Wright. He sought his French striking partner Jerome Vareille, who volleyed wildly.

Seven minutes later, Durrant's corner was poorly punched out by Mikko Kaven, but Martin Baker's unconvincing return shot let the Finnish international goalkeeper atone.

Vareille was the recipient of more generosity in the 37th minute, from Jamie McGowan. You began to wonder if Motherwell's policy of giveaways extended beyond the turnstiles, but Vareille hit the side-netting.

There was little excitement after half-time, save for Durrant's clever, curling shot which went just wide. But the tone and pace of the game seemed to change as Nevin came on in the 58th minute for Jan Michels.

Motherwell's Michel Doesburg and Rob Matthaei, and Dylan Kerr of Kilmarnock were given yellow cards as the visiting fans howled at Nevin for his defection. The clamour grew as Baker was stretchered off in the 70th minute after a crude tackle from Brian McClair.

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