GIVEN how Ryan Bowman’s final goal of last season was received, you could forgive the Motherwell striker for being slightly hesitant at a sodden Hampden Park on Saturday.
Just two months ago away to Inverness, Bowman grabbed what was just his second goal in Motherwell colours on the final day of long campaign. With only seconds to go, the former Gateshead man slotted home a penalty kick in the knowledge it would only earn Well a 3-2 loss, before celebrating with the well-travelled support behind the goal. It was a scene that greatly irked his manager Stephen Robinson, who lambasted Bowman’s exuberance in the face of certain defeat to send the Englishman homeward to think again.
Jump forward to Saturday, and Bowman smashed through last season’s target in a single game in what was an afternoon of more success for Motherwell. In a 5-1 victory over Queen’s Park for the Lanarkshire side in their opening Betfred Cup group match, the 25-year-old demonstrated great movement, skill and composure to grab his side’s third and fourth goals to beat the Queen’s defence and also go round keeper William Muir and then lob him three minutes later.
“The ref said to me there were five seconds to go and I scored,” said Bowman of the 3-2 loss in Inverness on May 20. “It was my second of the season and it wasn’t really a celebration it was more a relief at having scored.
“But he wasn’t too happy with it. I’m pleased to get two goals in the first competitive game and hopefully that can continue.
“That’s five in five now, including pre-season. It is six in six including Inverness on the last day of last season. It’s always nice to score as a striker, especially with only scoring two goals last season and they were two goals that meant nothing really [Inverness on last day and Aberdeen in 7-2 demolition]. I’m really enjoying it this year.”
Bowman’s swift start could not be better timed. Often a bit part player during his first season at Fir Park, he was forced to play an understudy role behind Louis Moult and Scott McDonald last term. He did well, the lack of goals not reflective of the work rate and influence he had when used latterly under Robinson.
But with Alex Fisher and Craig Tanner coming in, coupled with Moult’s potential contract extension, the former Hereford Man knows getting to the front of the goal-scoring queue now could define the season ahead.
“If you’re not scoring as a striker, you’re thinking, ‘Oh….’ But if you’re scoring in every game it gives you so much confidence and your all-round play becomes so much better as well,” he said. “If you’re playing better you’ve more chance of scoring.
“I feel as though Motherwell’s fans haven’t really seen the real me. I was in and out last season, I’d a fair crack of the whip at times and I wasn’t scoring. Because of that I wasn’t playing and rightly so.
“If you’re a striker scoring’s your job and if you’re not doing it you shouldn’t be playing. Hopefully I can keep this run going.
“If you’re getting them from other areas it takes a weight off the strikers’ shoulders. Moulty and Scotty got the bulk of the goals last season, I think Lionel got four or five, so if they’re coming from other areas it helps.”