Kris Jack at the Fir Park
Motherwell recorded their first home victory since early September defeating Ross County 3-2 at Fir Park.
Goals from Michael Higdon, Nicky Law and Keith Lasley handed ‘Well a win that sends them to third, as Rocco Quinn’s double proved in vain for Derek Adams’ side.
Stuart McCall made one change to the side that drew with Aberdeen in the Scottish Cup last weekend, Shaun Hutchinson returning to the starting eleven at the expense of Fraser Kerr.
Mark Fotheringham and Colin McMenamin came back in to the County side following their 3-3 draw with Inverness in the Cup, Sam Morrow and Stuart Kettlewell sat it out as The Staggies sought their second away win of the season.
County created the first chance of the match and Quinn was unfortunate to see his chipped effort from outside of the box land on top of Hollis’ goal.
Motherwell responded prompotly at the other end, however Humphrey failed to find the target after a neat pass from Higdon.
Former ‘Well stopper Mark Brown was the first goalkeeper forced into making a save – parrying the ball away after Lasley connected with Tom Hateley’s corner before the hosts fell behind to a screamer of a strike.
Former Celtic youth Quinn burst forward before unleashing an unstoppable shot beyond Hollis from 30 yards, much to the delight of the noisy Ross County fans who had travelled down the A9.
Stuart McCall’s side responded in a positive fashion and Brown made a brave stop at the feet of Henrik Ojamaa, before the hosts grabbed a deserved equaliser.
Humphrey’s pin-point delivery found Higdon and Motherwell’s top-scorer powered the ball beyond Brown. It was the big hitman’s eleventh goal in 17 games this season, and showcased his talent for finding the back of the net with a header.
Buoyed by their equaliser, Motherwell continued to threaten the County goal and Jamie Murphy passed up a great opportunity to fire the hosts in front when he blazed over after good work form Lasley.
The visitors created a chance of their own seven minutes before the break when Quinn released Gary Glen but the Staggies striker was denied by the legs of the onrushing Hollis.
Right back Mihael Kovacevic was replaced by Grant Munro at half-time, however it was Motherwell who made the dream start to the second half when Law raced through on goal and calmly slotted the ball into the net.
It was the ideal start to the second half and came from one of the most positive runs of the game by Law, whose composed finish brought the home crowd to their feet.
The goal stung County to life and Ross Tokely tested Hollis with a powerful header and Colin McMenamin failed to capitalise on a free header inside the area following a good delivery from Richard Brittain.
The visiting supporters cried for a penalty after Mark Fotheringham tumbled inside the area but Hollis looked to take the ball cleanly.
County were immerging more as an attacking threat which allowed Motherwell to counter. One such occasion brought about a free-kick on the edge of the area but former ‘Well keeper Brown made an excellent stop to keep out Hateley’s curler.
Glen then looked to have restored parity when he collected Quinn’s pass and fired beyond Hollis, but the former Hearts striker was rightly adjudged to have strayed offside.
County made a double substitution as Stuart Kettlewell and Alex Cooper came on in place of Brittain and Glen.
The changes almost immediately paid off as Tokely fired just wide of the target and Stuart McCall reacted by making a change of his own when Ojamaa made way for Robert McHugh.
The Staggies fans did not have to wait much longer for an equaliser though as Quinn fired against Adam Cummins before his deflected effort rebound left Hollis flat-footed. It was a goal that sparked the County fans back to life, having wrong footed the ‘Well stopper on its way in to the net.
McCall introduced Stuart Carswell and Zaine Francis-Angol in place of the injured Law and Higdon in an attempt to spark some life into the Well attack.
Both sides were demonstrating a desire to secure all three-points and Lasley slotted home with eight minutes remaining to put the Fir Park side on course for victory.
Great tenacity on the right hand side from Chris Humphrey kept the ball alive, allowing him to fizz a pass along the 18 yard line, where his skipper was waiting to drill the ball low in to the bottom right corner for his first goal of the season.
Shortly after the Motherwell captain looked to double his tally but it wasn’t too be as he fired wide.
Adams’ side continued to battle and they came agonisingly close to scoring an equaliser in the final minute of injury-time, the home defence failed to clear Vigurs’ corner and Hollis somehow kept out McMenamin’s fizzing effort to secure a win for the hosts.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FULL TIME: It’s ended Motherwell 3-2 Ross County. Superb 3 points.
92mins: Lee Hollis to the rescue! Great hand to deny County a headed equaliser
90mins: 3 minutes for ‘Well to hold on.
87mins: Lasley almost at it again! Francis-Angol showing some superb play to get past Boyd and his cut back was deflected to Las. just past.
82mins: What a well worked goal! Murphy to Humphrey to Lasley. One touch. Goal. Celebrations. 3-2. Barcaesque.
80mins: Francis-Angol shows great pace to get past Boyd and whip the ball across for McHugh. Munro gets in just ahead of him to clear.
79mins: Motherwell sub: Francis-Angol on for Higdon.
75mins: ‘Well on the ropes a little here…….County looking dangerous in pursuit of a winner.
73mins: Motherwell sub, Carswell on for Law.
72mins: Hammell curls in a teasing ball just across the 6 yard line. Brown collects easily.
68mins: GOAL, Quinn equalises! It was a deflection which deceived Hollis, but he’ll take that. 2-2
67mins: Motherwell sub, Ojamaa off for McHugh
67mins: Ross County subs: Kettlewell and Cooper on for Brittan and Glen
62mins; Quinn tries his luck from a touch closer this time and on his left foot. Doesn’t trouble Hollis.
59mins: Hateley with a Ziidane-esque roulette on the edge of the County Box but hits the deck. Nothing given!
55mins: Hateley with a Beckhamesque effort from all of 30 yards. Brown does well to tip it over. And yes, Beckhamesque is a word!
51mins: Hollis spills Fotheringham’s shot from just inside the box. Penalty shouts from County as Glen nipped in on rebound. No pen.
Goal! Straight after the restart! Nicky Nicky Law!!! 2-1 Cool finish from Lawsy 10 yards out after 48 minutes.
HALF-TIME: Motherwell 1 -1 Ross County
44mins: Great football again from Motherwell. Lovely one touch stuff which ended when Humphreys cross was intercepted by the toe of Boyd.
40mins: Brittain normally is excellent at dead ball situations. Not there though as his shot is well over the bar.
36mins: Hollis gets his angles right in the end after rushing off his line block Glen’s shot. Danger from corner cleared.
33mins: Great ball in by Humphrey. Exactly where any striker would want it but unfortunately no takers.
31mins: Boyd cautioned for denying Humphrey a clear run at goal…by diving on the ball.
30mins: Great football from the Steelmen! Murphy on the end of Lasley’s cutback but can only blaze over from 12 yards.
28mins: Fitzpatrick floats a ball into the crowd and it is met by the towering leap of a fan. Despite his celebrations, Brown not tested!
23mins: It’s the big scouser! Higdon bullets home the cross from 8 yards. 1-1!
22mins: Lasley goes for a wander down the left wing and cuts in like any winger would be proud of. His cut back is only just intercepted.
18mins: ‘Well find themselves 1-0 down despite dominating the so far. Sweet strike from Quinn though.
GOAL: Rocco Quinn opens the scoring with an incredible 25 yard shot which goes in off the bar.
12mins: Ojamaa shows some trickery out wide and wins a corner…. Hateley’s front post delivery is diverted goalward by Las but Brown gets a hand to it to make a fantastic stop!
8mins: Higdon spreads the ball wide to Humphrey who drives into the box. Gets his footwork all wrong though and shoots high and wide.
4mims: Audacious little chip from Rocco Quinn drops just over the bar. End to end stuff at the moment…
1min: Good ball across the face from Murph but County sweep up.
1min – We’re underway at Fir Park. ‘Well shooting towards the Cooper.
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“All in all, it’s a great three points. We needed the monkey off our back with the home form. I thought in the first half we played some terrific football and I was disappointed to come in at half-time level.
“Some of the moves in the first-half were terrific, we just didn’t finish them off. In the second half we started brilliantly, and I think it kind of rocked us when we went 2-1 ahead.
“I thought they played well in the second half. We weren’t at our best. In fairness to Ross County, they came here and played two strikers,” he continued.
“They didn’t come and sit in, they came and had a go. And I think, because of their attitude, it made it a more open game.”
Ross County manager Derek Adams:
“The three goals were poor goals from our point of view. We can’t defend like that against a team as good as Motherwell.
“We didn’t do well enough in the game to take the point, didn’t defend well enough and allowed Motherwell to gather the win.
“We can’t defend as kamikaze as we did. We’re creating openings and were unfortunate not to have scored [late in the match].”