Phil McGhee at Rugby Park
A goal in each half gave Kilmarnock all three points against a ten-man Motherwell.
Muirhead opened the scoring after nine minutes with a thundering long-range effort from distance.
It stayed that way until the 78th minute when Fraser Kerr was ordered off for a high challenge on Jamie Hammil and to add insult to injury, Sammy Clingan curled home the resulting free-kick.
The reverse at Rugby Park was Motherwell’s third league defeat in a row – the first time the Steelmen have lost three on the bounce in the top league for almost two years.
Motherwell handed Henrik Ojamaa his first start since his return to the club. The Estonian forward came off the bench for the second half of last week’s defeat to Inverness and was added to the team for the visit to Rugby Park.
McCall also drafted in Iain Vigurs and Jack Leitch who replaced the injured David Ferguson and Lee Erwin.
Killie were missing both Michael Ngoo and Craig Slater from the matchday squad.
Motherwell looked good on the ball in the opening exchanged but it was the hosts who created and scored. Muirhead had passed up a glorious chance in the first few minutes, but, with just nine minutes on the clock, he made amends by grabbing the opener.
He collected the ball from Chris Chantler before letting fly with an unstoppable shot from the edge of the area that had Dan Twardzik well beaten.
However, the Motherwell goalkeeper came to the rescue when he found himself one on one with Josh Magennis and raced off his line to block.
The Northern Irishman was thwarted again seconds later when his shot from distance was smothered by Twardzik as the home side heaped on the pressure.
Magennis then attempted to turn provider, nodding into the path of Muirhead 18 yards out, but his volley dipped just over the crossbar and he was denied his second goal of the day.
‘Well had to weather a storm. They were good on the ball but were getting cut open far too easy. Rory McKenzie had a go with a 25-yard drive that a full-stretch Twardzik just managed to turn past a post.
The Fir Parkers got through most of what Killie were throwing and as the half wore on, were edging their way back into things. Ojamaa saw an angled drive clawed away by Craig Samson, with Craig Reid unable to get a clean shot from the rebound.
Motherwell stepped up attempts at a fight back after the break, but a curling free-kick from the fit-again Iain Vigurs did little to trouble Sampson in the Killie goal.
McManus headed over a Vigurs corner and Ojamaa looked to be in on goal following some confusion in the home defence but Hamill got back to cover. Vigurs also had an effort sail high over the bar after a nice bit of skill in the build up.
However, there appeared to be no way back for ‘Well when they found themselves down to ten men. Fraser Kerr was shown a straight red card for a high tackle on Jamie Hamill on the edge of the area.
From the resulting free-kick, Northern Irishman Sammy Clingan stepped up to smash home and seal the points.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Rugby Park
FT: Kilmarnock 2 – 0 Motherwell #KFCvMFC
94mins: Another fine save from Twardzik to deny Magennis
93mins: Leitch booked for clipping McKenzie’s ankles.
5 minutes added on
86mins: Kilmarnock sub: Cairney on for Obadeyi
83mins: McKenzie should have made it 3 but again Twardzik does well to block at his feet.
And a ‘Well sub, Ainsworth on for Ojamaa
80mins: Kilmarnock subs, Eremenko and O’Hara on for Hamill and Muirhead
77mins: GOAL! From the free-kick, Clingan fired it low past Twardzik. 2-0
76mins: RED CARD: Kerr sent off for what looked like a high foot going into the challenge.
71mins: Nice bit of skill from Vigurs some 25 yards out but with Law as an option out wide, he opts to shoot but it it well wide.
67mins: Decent chance for Ojamaa who dispossesed Barbour and darted into the box. Hamill did enough to cover and make the saving tackle
65mins: Vigurs outmuscles Pascali and wins a corner. Vigurs delivers to the front post to McManus but he can only flick a header well wide.
61mins: Free-kick in a decent area about 30 yards out on the left but Vigurs’ ball in eludes everyone.
57mins: Corner to Killie after Twardzik takes no chances and punches it behind. Pascali heads harmlessly wide.
4,146 here at Rugby Park #KFCvMFC
50mins: Stoppage in play as we await a substitute corner flag. Reid snapped the last one trying to chase down a through ball.
49mins: Great effort from Vigurs from the free-kick. Samson got across his line well and managed to gather it to safety.
48mins: Hamill booked for a foul on on Sutton. Didn’t look worthy of a yellow to be honest.
Second half underway!
A frustrating first half for ‘Well as yet again they go behind to a great strike. Playing some good football, just lacking the final ball.
HT: Kilmarnock 1 – 0 Motherwell #KFCvMFC
40mins: Drama as Sutton races through 1v1. Looked to have been clipped by Pascali but ref says no! Interesting to see that back.
38mins: Killie counter and on the edge of the box, Barbour spins McManus and gets a shot away. Straight into the hands of Twardzik, though.
36mins: Great passing play from ‘Well but Connolly is there to intercept Reid’s cross.
Great delivery from Lasley has Samson backtracking and having to punch it clear.
33mins: Corner to ‘Well, swung in by Leitch and headed clear by Magennis. Another corner to ‘Well…
31mins: McKenzie tries his luck from range and does enough to test Twardzik who has to dive to his right and tip it wide.
27mins: Leitch swings a deep ball towards the back post which Kerr and Sutton both rise for. Kerr wins the header but it’s well past.
26mins: Magennis heads it into the path of Muirhead again who catches it almost too cleanly on the volley and it’s just over.
25mins: Killie still 1 up. ‘Well are playing some not bad stuff and getting a lot of the ball. Just no end product as yet.
18mins: Magennis meets a cross from the right with a well-timed header. Thankfully it is dealt with by Twardzik.
13mins: And another great save from Twardzik! This time he is called into action to deny Magennis from the edge of the box!
11mins: Great stop from Twardzik to deny Magennis! He should have scored 1v1 but Dan spread himself well to make the save.
10mins: Leitch is slid in out wide by Vigurs but his drilled cross is plucked out the air by Samson.
8mins: GOAL! – Muirhead smashes one in from distance! 1-0 to Killie
3mins: Great effort from Ojamaa, on the right edge of the box. Unlucky to see his volley flash just wide!
Game is underway. COYW!!!!
Motherwell manager Stuart McCall:
“The second goal just summed things up for us. The second goal, with 10 men, just killed it off.
“Stephen McManus collapsed in a heap, the ball bounced around and Fraser Kerr made a challenge and they scored from the free-kick.
“Fraser Kerr doesn’t have a malicious bone in his body but it was a late challenge. It looked bad, it looked like a red card.”
Kilmarnock manager Allan Johnston:
“You look at Motherwell’s squad and it’s more or less the same as last year and they brought in Ojamaa, who’s a top player.
“But I thought we created a lot of chances and defended well. It was good to get a clean sheet as well.
“There were times we passed the ball well and we had to defend well too but I don’t think we looked like we were going to lose goals.”