Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell recovered from going a goal down in the first half to beat Ross County 3-1 at Fir Park this afternoon.
And in the closing stages ‘Well might have added a few more goals as they turned in possibly their best home performance of the season.
Despite some good individual performances from the changed team in the League Cup win at Livingston, James McFadden was the only change from the side which started at Tannadice last week, with ex-County man Iain Vigurs on the bench having just got through a fitness test before the match.
Having rested the main strike force, John Sutton and Henri Anier, in mid-week it was obvious they would get chances against a County side boasting the worst defensive record in the league.
And within 90 seconds, Anier might have added to his account when Sutton set him up but from a tight angle but the Estonian’s drive was parried by ex ‘Well keeper Mark Brown.
Although play was very open, there were no real chances at either end until the 25th minute when McFadden sent Francis-Angol to the goal line and his cut back found Sutton who fired in a low shot which Brown blocked with his right foot.
However, It was County who made the breakthrough four minutes later. And although Melvin de Leeuw’s shot from the edge of the box might have been on target ,the ball took a wicked deflection off Stephen McManus to send it spinning across the helpless Lee Hollis and in off the ‘keeper’s left hand post.
‘Well immediately went in search of an equaliser and McFadden hit the wall with a free-kick before Hutchinson swept wide after getting on the end of the resulting corner.
County’s attacking formation provided them with a couple of chances but Lee Hollis was alert to save from Richard Brittain and a brilliant block to deny Stuart Kettlewell from close range.
When ‘Well equalised after 54 minutes, though, there was only to be one winner. And that was demonstrated by John Sutton’s determination to score the equaliser.
His free kick from 20-yards was brilliantly palmed round the post by Brown. But the ‘Well striker was not to be denied and when Lionel Ainsworth whipped in the corner, Sutton powered his header towards the top corner, despite Brown’s best efforts to keep the ball out.
Motherwell were going through the gears and Sutton sent Ainsworth racing down the right. His curling cross in front of Anier was met with a diving header which sent the ball about a foot away from giving the home side the lead.
The pressure steadily mounted on the visitors goal and after 67 minutes the Fir Parkers took the lead. Anier sent Sutton bursting through the middle and he held off Grant Munro before blasting an unstoppable shot high past Brown.
Ainsworth then had an angled shot parried by Brown but the third goal was only delayed until the 77th minute. Simon Ramsden’s long cross found the unmarked McHugh who calmly steered his header into the top corner.
It was all Motherwell after that and Sutton came close to grabbing his hat-trick with a header from a Stevie Hammell’s cross which flashed narrowly past the post.
Motherwell’s form and confidence is high for the trip to Celtic Park next week.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 3 – 1 Ross County
90mins: 3 minutes added on
85mins: Sutton running riot. Another header just wide from Vigurs’ free-kick from wide on the left.
84mins: Inches wide from Vigurs! His shot took a touch off Boyd though and it’s a corner.
81mins: Sutton goes close again with another header! Hammell with the ball in from the left, Sutty heads just wide.
77mins: Ramsden with the ball in and McHugh flew through the air to head past Brown. 3-1!
77mins: GOAALLLL!! McHugh!
76mins: Ross County sub , Glen on for Ross
76mins: Motherwell sub: Vigurs on for Francis-Angol
75mins: Good play from Francis-Angol to get to the wing and cut it back for McHugh. He tries to hit it on the spin but scoops it over.
69mins: Ainsworth strides forward and after creating space for a shot, stings the palms of Brown with a powerful effort
68mins: Motherwell sub, Anier off for McHugh
67mins: Sutton makes it 2-1 with a fantastic finish 1 on 1 with Brown from Anier’s great through ball!
63mins: Another fine save from Hollis to deny Brittain from close range.
61mins: Ross County sub, de Leeuw off for Sproule
59mins: Anier almost gives ‘Well the lead with a diving header from Ainsworth’s cross! Great effort
58mins: Fantastic save from Hollis after Brittain’s long range shot takes a deflection and almost sneaks in.
55mins: Ainsworth wins ‘Well a corner….,….McManus heads just over!
53mins: Sutton equalises with a thumping header from the resulting corner. 1-1!
52mins: Another FK 25 yards out….Brown tips Sutton’s effort just past!
51mins: Free-kick 30 yards out for Motherwell….Lasley drills it into the wall.
50mins: De Leeuw goes close with a volley from Brittain’s cross. Was an awkward angle and didn’t get the power required to test Hollis
46mins: Second half underway
HT: Motherwell sub: McFadden off for Ainsworth.
HT: Motherwell back out. Come on!
HT: Motherwell 0 – 1 Ross County
45mins: 2 minutes added on
43mins: Glorious chance for County to double their lead just before half time. Brittain scoops it well over the bar from the edge of the box
37mins: And from the corner, Hutchinson’s shot at the front post drifts just past!
37mins: Free-kick about 25 yards out. Good position……McFadden’s shot is headed out for a corner.
35mins: Ross County sub: McLean makes way for Munro.
33mins: Decent chance there for ‘Well as Sutton flicks on McFadden’s free-kick from wide on the right. Straight at Brown.
30mins: GOAL! County open the scoring. De Leeuw with the goal which was deflected past Hollis
25mins: Sutton denied the opener by Mark Browns foot! Was a good stop to deny him from 10 yards. Anier curls the rebound just wide.
20mins: Ambitious stuff from Hutchinson as he storms forward and tries a shot from 35 yards.High and wide.
15mins: Bit of trickery from Francis-Angol freed him up to get a cross in from the left. Unfortunately no-one was there to take advantage
9mins: Good spell of attacking pressure there from County! Carey with 2 good crosses in from the left with no takers
5mins: Carey gets a bit of time 30 yards out and opts to shoot. Well over the bar.
1min: Anier brings out a good stop from Brown! From the resulting corner Hutchinson heads just over.
1min: De Leeuw and Brittain kick us off #COYW
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“It obviously wasn’t in the script to go a goal behind but to be fair to Ross County; they came and put two right up top.
“They don’t often do that to be fair so that made their intentions clear from the start but I always felt that would leave us a little more room to play and it proved to be the case.
“First half, although we were behind, we had the majority of the ball and had two or three wee half chances. Despite being behind at the break, I seen enough to suggest we would get chances and that proved to be the case in the second half.”
Ross County manager Derek Adams:
“I thought we played very well in the game as a whole.
“The first half we created openings and didn’t really look under any threat. I know Brown made a really good save but Richard Brittain had a great chance to make it 2-0 just before half-time.
“The second half we didn’t deal well with the cross ball into the box. From that point of view, disappointing, but overall it was a good performance from us.”