Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell slipped to their first home defeat since December as Kilmarnock score late to win 2-1.
A decent first half which was rewarded by an Iain Vigurs goal which should have provided the platform for a third consecutive home win.
Some sloppy play in the second half, though, gave Kilmarnock hope of taking something from the game and when Rory McKenzie equalised, it looked like ‘Well would have to settle for a point.
However, as both teams chased a winner in the five minutes of injury time, Killie struck with a killer second goal when Craig Slater’s shot cruelly bobbled over Gunnar Nielsen to give the Rugby Park side all three points.
James McFadden failed to recover from the hamstring he strained against Ross County, allowing teenage striker Craig Moore to make his third start of the season.
The Rugby Park side, hovering only three points above the relegation play-off spot and without an away win since December, started the game quite confidently as both teams were intent to play possession football.
After a couple of early efforts from Jackson Irvine and Iain Vigurs went high and wide, the first save came from Craig Samsom after 13 minutes but he was well positioned to hold Lionel Ainsworth’s curling free kick.
Gunnar Nielsen produced his first save at full length to beat away a shot from Robbie Muirhead. The ‘Well ‘keeper then raced off his line to punch the ball away at the edge of his box as McKenzie got in front of Stevie Hammell.
A trip on Moore at the edge of the Killie penalty area allowed Sutton to drill in a free kick which Samson spilled but Craig Reid, who had a very impressive 90 minutes, was unable to force the loose ball inside the post.
The activity around the visitor’s goal was increasing and diminutive Moore leapt the highest to meet a Vigurs free kick only to direct the ball over the goal.
Minutes later Samson’s goal had a narrow escape when Reid’s header from Ainsworth’s corner was sneaking inside the post until Muirhead cleared it off the line.
The pressure on the visitor’s goal finally paid off five minutes from half-time. Vigurs first attempt from the edge of the box was blocked but when Moore rolled the ball back to the former Ross County man he smacked a ferocious low drive and although Samson got a hand to the ball the Killie ‘keeper couldn’t prevent the ball finding the corner of the net.
Three minutes later a terrific piece of footwork took Vigurs beyond two defenders only for him to drive his shot high into the side netting. A second goal then would have surely killed off Killie.
Motherwell might have made it two five minutes after the break Samson struggled to deal with a swerving shot from Moore but after the ‘keeper palmed the ball out Lee Ashcroft mopped up the danger booting the ball high over his own cross bar.
Keith Lasley then returned the ball into a packed six-yard box but Sutton’s glancing header sent the ball just outside the post.
However, after a period of pressure towards the ‘Well goal, the Ayrshire side found themselves level after 65 minutes when Rory McKenzie calmly steered the ball beyond the advancing Nielsen.
Stuart McCall immediately made a double substitution bringing on Henri Anier and Jack Leitch. And within minutes ‘Well had penalty appeals waved aside as Anier fell inside the box as he attempted to get beyond Ashcroft and get a shot on goal.
It was an open game after that and with both teams searching for a winner play raced to both ends of the pitch.
‘Well had chances to seal all three points and from a Stephen McManus cross Zaine Francis-Angol headed the ball straight at Samson. A wicked free kick from Vigurs was palmed out by Samson but with Francis-Angol and Sutton racing in neither player could get a touch to send the ball into the empty net.
As the fourth official indicated five minutes of injury time, play became frenetic and with defensive gaps at either end both sides had chances.
Alexei Eremneko should have netted the winner but his lob sent the ball over the advancing Nielsen only to bounce off the cross bar.
But in the final move of the match Slater raced unchallenged towards the home box before drilling a shot across the diving Nielsen, taking a bounce over the ‘keeper before nestling in the corner of the net to give Kilmarnock a dramatic winner and leave the Fir Park players and fans well and truly sickened.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 1 – 2 Kilmarnock #MFCvKFC
94mins: GOAL! Killie surely win it wit a last second Slater strike from 20 yards #MFCvKFC
94mins: Eremenko lobs Nielsen but strikes the bar #MFCvKFC
Into added time, still 1-1 #MFCvKFC
88mins: Nielsen has to pluck the ball off the line after a scramble in the box from a corner#MFCvKFC
88mins: Motherwell sub, Francis-Angol off for Fraser Kerr #MFCvKFC
83mins: Pause in pay as McKenzie is treated and stretchered off….Nicholson replaces him #MFCvKFC
80mins: McKenzie wins Killie a free-kick next to the right-hand corner flag. #MFCvKFC
76mins: Anier wins a free kick about 25 yards out…..Vigurs strikes it at Samson who beats it out to Sutton who can’t convert #MFCvKFC
70mins: Anier trips at the vital moment when if he had got a shot away it looked like he’s score! #MFCvKFC
67mins: Motherwell subs, Anier on for Moore and Ainsworth off for Leitch #MFCvKFC
66mins: GOAL! McKenzie puts Killie on level terms after a clever through ball left him 1v1. 1-1 #MFCvKFC
60mins: Corner to Killie..Niesen has to punch clear from Eremenko as they work a a short corner #MFCvKFC
59mins: Wonderful slide tackle from McManus to clear from Eremenko as he pulled the trigger from 20 yards #MFCvKFC
54mins: Killie sub, Clohessy off for Barbour #MFCvKFC
51mins: Another corner to ‘Well…Lasley picks it up at the backpost and puts it back for Sutton who heads inches past! #MFCvKFC
49mins: Moore’s strike causes problems for Samson as it swerves all over the place. ‘Well win a corner from it. #MFCvKFC
Second half underway #MFCvKFC
Would have been a goal of the season contender on the stroke of half time as Vigurs roulettes into the box but strikes just wide :O
HT:Motherwell 1 – 0 Kilmarnock #MFCvKFC
43mins: Vigurs smashes it in from 18 yards past Samson who got a hand to it! 1-0! #MFCvKFC
39mins: Corner to Killie, headed wide by Irvine who got the run on Reid #MFCvKFC
36mins: Yet another corner to ‘Well…Reid’s header is cleared off the line!! #MFCvKFC
31mins: Clohessy tries to dribble out of defence but concedes a corner…..and again Boyd heads it clear #MFCvKFC
28mins: From the free-kick, Moore rises well but head over from 12 yards #MFCvKFC
28mins: Finally Madden reaches for the yellow card and books Clohessy for tripping Francis-Angol #MFCvKFC
26mins: Sutton opts for power and Samson has to react quickly to palm away his effort #MFCvKFC
26mins: Moore wins a free-kick on the edge of the box after a lovely flick from Vigurs sets him free #MFCvKFC
20mins: Corner to ‘Well, delivered by Ainsworth, again headed clear by Boyd #MFCvKFC
19mins: A scare there as Eremenko floats a ball over the top and as McKenzie takes a touch by Nielsen,he gets a hand to it to clear #MFCvKFC
16mins: Reid runs the length of the pitch and wins a corner, which is finally cleared by Boyd #MFCvKFC
14mins: Great save from Nielsen as he dives low to his left to beat away Muirhead’s strike #MFCvKFC
…Ainsworth strikes straight at Samson #MFCvKFC
13mins: Francis-Angol is wipe out on the edge of the box by Muirhead. FK in a good position on the left…
11mins: Free-kick to Motherwell out wide on the right. Vigurs delivers…but it sails well wide of the top corner #MFCvKFC
7mins: First corner of the game for ‘Well…..which is headed clear by Irvine #MFCvKFC
6mins: First chance of the game goes to Slater. Cuts in from the left but drags a weak shot well wide #MFCvKFC
Underway at a sunny Fir Park! #MFCvKFC
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“I’m naturally bitterly disappointed. I thought we deserved our half-time lead; we played some decent stuff and got some good crosses into the box.
“Second half Kilmarnock stepped it up and battled away. The real sickening thing is when you watch the goal back. Not only is it the last kick of the ball, but it hits the biggest bobble ever inside the penalty box and there’s nothing Gunnar can do about it.
“It’s that little bit of bad luck that’s done us. I think a point would have been a fairer reflection on the match, even although we didn’t play too well in the second half and looked leggy in spells.
“We’ve got to lick our wounds, pick ourselves up and get on with it as we have a big game on Tuesday night and for me now, it’s all about how we react.”
Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston: