Steven Hammell left Stark’s Park without talking to the media after his Motherwell side crashed to a 3-1 Scottish Cup defeat by Raith Rovers.
Hammell faced calls of “you’re getting sacked in the morning” from jubilant Raith fans after Esmael Goncalves’ debut goal clinched Rovers’ place in the quarter-finals. Some of the Motherwell fans who had not walked out following the 85th-minute clincher joined in the chants.
The club’s post-war record appearance holder later left the ground with assistant Brian Kerr without doing any interviews.
Motherwell’s season has taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks with a growing injury list and a meek performance against St Johnstone in a 2-0 home defeat followed by a toothless display in a 3-1 loss at Aberdeen. The cup exit has now put Hammell under growing pressure.
Raith went ahead through Jamie Gullan’s 17th-minute penalty following a handball award against Callum Slattery and, although Motherwell settled down and kept decent possession for a spell, they lacked a goal threat and fell further behind when Sam Stanton scrambled home in the 39th minute.
Hammell made three half-time changes and got a response with Kevin van Veen netting in the 51st minute but their ongoing pressure could not yield an equaliser and Goncalves beat the offside trap to score after completing a loan move from Livingston hours earlier.
Raith reached the SPFL Trust Trophy final in midweek with a penalty shoot-out win at Dundee and have gone 12 games unbeaten and manager Ian Murray felt they were well worth their latest success.
Murray said: “I’m delighted to be in the next round. The players deserve it, they have been excellent all season, particularly this week when they have shown so much character and desire.
“We looked really dangerous. We have good players, some of the players are real quality, some of them are not far off the Premiership themselves and even a couple who could be in it.”
Murray was delighted to see his new signing reap instant rewards.
“It’s always the fairy tale that you sign a player and he comes off the bench and scores you the winner,” he said.
“We had looked at Isma at the start of the window and he was just out of our financial reach but things change as the window goes on.
“He showed a real hunger to come and we were delighted to get him. He has repaid his debt already so everything we get from Isma is a bonus financially.”
Murray spared a thought for Hammell, whose side have not won in the cinch Premiership since October 29.
“I knew Motherwell were fragile of course with where they are in the league,” the former Hibernian and Rangers player said.
“I don’t really enjoy seeing that if I’m being honest because we have all been there. I feel for Steven as a manager. I played with Steven as a youngster with the Scotland national teams.
“I take no joy in seeing Motherwell where they are to be honest but we all know what football is like, it’s very, very fickle. I hope they recover really quickly and pick up points.”