Phil McGhee at Global Energy Stadium
Motherwell lost narrowly to Ross County in an action-packed afternoon at the Global Energy Stadium.
Jim McIntyre’s side took the lead in the first half through Martin Woods but new-signing Conor Grant brought ‘Well level with a stunning free kick.
Paul Quinn put County back in front before Raffaele De Vita made it 3-1. Fraser Kerr pulled one back but it wasn’t enough as the hosts held on for the three points.
‘Well made six changes to the side that drew with St Johnstone and the team in all white made a bright start to the game, Lee Erwin in particular, and he did well to cut in on the left flank only for his shot to be deflected wide for a corner.
A minute later, the same player latched on to a loose ball on the edge of the box but smashed his low shot narrowly wide of Mark Brown’s left hand post.
County grew into the match and Craig Curran prodded a header wide but it would be ‘Well who would have the first shot on target.
Stephen McManus sent Thomas scampering away down the right after the former Plymouth mad had left Reckord on his backside. Closing down on goal, the winger’s low shot was held by Brown at the second attempt.
County hit back almost immediately and the Steelmen had ‘keeper Long to thank for two stunning saves, the first from Staggies’ Northern Irish frontman Liam Boyce and the other from Scott Boyd, who both fired stinging shots from distance.
However, the on-loan Sheffield United stopper was helpful to keep out the next attack as the hosts took the lead through Martin Woods. The midfielder played a one-two with De Vita before finding the corner of the net with a superb left-foot volley.
The home side had a chance to double their lead a couple of minutes later when Boyce got on the end of a Woods free kick but failed to finish.
‘Well should have got themselves on level terms before the break when Fraser Kerr twice headed into the arms of Brown from set-pieces.
County had another good chance to extend their lead in the 47th minute when Jackson Irvine got on the end of Woods’ corner but, with the goal at his mercy, he headed well over.
Motherwell did eventually draw level and it was a cracker from midfielder Conor Grant. It was the Evertonian himself who won the free kick in a dangerous position when Reckord tripped him on the edge of the area. The 19-year old took the kick himself and curled the ball in at Brown’s near post.
Frustratingly, County restored their advantage inside six minutes and it was former ‘Well man Paul Quinn who put his side ahead. Raffaele De Vita floated a free kick towards the far end of the box and Quinn nipped in between Kerr and Reid to send a header looping into the far corner.
It went from bad to terrible shortly after when De Vita added a third, carefully watching Michael Gardyne cross ball fly over the head of Reid before controlling a stinging volley past Long, leaving the big Englishman completely helpless.
To their credit, Baraclough’s men refused to lie down and set-up a grandstand last fifteen minutes when Fraser Kerr headed home Grant’s whipped corner.
However, County saw out the game, remaining resolute at the back and keeping possession deep in the ‘Well half to eventually see the game out and send a dejected visitors down the A9 pointless.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Global Energy Stadium
FT: Ross County 3 – 2 Motherwell #RCFCvMFC
4 minutes added on. #RCFCvMFC
87mins: Motherwell sub, Grant off for Ainsworth #RCFCvMFC
83mins: Ross County sub, Kiss is on for Gardyne #RCFCvMFC
80mins: Ramsden is booked for a tackle on Boyce. County have a free-kick in a similar position where they scored #RCFCvMFC
78mins: Fraser KERR heads home Grant’s corner! 3-2 now….
78mins: Johnson forces a ‘Well corner….GOAL!!
77mins: Dingwall booked for a late tackle on Reid #RCFCvMFC
71mins: Ross County sub, De Vita off for Dingwall #RCFCvMFC
69mins: Fraser enters the refs book – Cautioned for a challenge on Johnson #RCFCvMFC
251 ‘Well fans have made the journey up. As always, your wonderful support is greatly appreciated #RCFCvMFC
65mins: Motherwell sub, Lasley off for Moore #RCFCvMFC
64mins: De Vita booked for a tackle on Reid #RCFCvMFC
63mins: Goal – It’s 3-1. Another volley, this time De Vita smashing home from 15 yards
59mins: Motherwell sub, N. Thomas is off for Johnson #RCFCvMFC
59mins: Goal – Paul Quinn nods County into the lead from a deep free-kick. 2-1 #RCFCvMFC
55mins: Irvine booked for hacking down Erwin, wide on the left. Free-kick in a decent area…Grant’s delivery is swept clear by Irvine
53mins: It’s the new boy, Conor GRANT, who curls in a beauty of a free-kick. What a goal!! 1-1 #RCFCvMFC
53mins: Grant shows some good footwork to earn a free-kick about 20 yards out…..GGOOAALLLL!!!
46mins: Incredibly Irvine has a free header from a corner yet somehow fails to hit the target from 10 yards #RCFCvMFC
Second half is underway, no changes for either side #RCFCvMFC
HT: Ross County 1 – 0 Motherwell #RCFCvMFC
44mins: Yet again Kerr wins a header from a corner but it is too tame to bother Brown #RCFCvMFC
41mins: From that corner, Kerr wins the header but it is straight at Brown #RCFCvMFC
41mins: Grant’s corner is aimed at Kerr who is only just beaten to it by Irvine who heads out for a corner #RCFCvMFC
38mins: Erwin wins ‘Well a corner, Grant swings it in but again Brown is on hand to mop up the danger #RCFCvMFC
35mins: Woods swings in a deep free-kick which finds Boyce in the box but his effort doesn’t trouble Long #RCFCvMFC
34mins: Goal – Wodds puts County in the lead, with a stunner of a volley after a one-two with Boyce #RCFCvMFC
31mins: ‘Well free-kick wide on the right, Grant delivers…Brown gather comfortably #RCFCvMFC
28mins: Two fantastic saves from Long in the space of a minute :O Spectacularly tipping over from Boyce twice! #RCFCvMFC
27mins: McManus sends Thomas racing clear and Brown has to make a good save to deny him as he shot from 20 yards #RCFCvMFC
25mins: After quite an explosive first five minutes, the game has quietened down a little. Not a lot to talk about right now #RCFCvMFC
16mins: De Vita twists and turns inside the ‘Well box and gets a cross in which Long plucks out the air #RCFCvMFC
8mins: Another Motherwell corner….taken short again but Thomas is crowded out and can’t deliver the cross #RCFCvMFC
3mins: Erwin looking lively! Finds some space 25 yards out and gets a volley away which sails just past the post #RCFCvMFC
1min: Erwin cuts inside from the left and his shot is nodded wide for a corner. ‘Well work a short on but is headed clear.
Boyce and Irvine kick the game off. COYW! #RCFCvMFC
Out come the teams then. A big 90 minutes ahead for both sides… #RCFCvMFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“If we do stick together and support each other I’m sure we’ll make it through. It’s not going to be an easy time, it’s not going to be all plain sailing.
“You are going to get the knocks, and you are going to get disappointments. It’s how you deal with the disappointments as a collective. Not just the players, not just the staff, but everybody.”
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre:
“What especially pleased me was the way we started the match. I thought we were on the front foot right from the off and put them under severe pressure.
“Both our wide players were getting crosses in at every opportunity. Motherwell’s centre backs will know they’ve been in a game because our two were a real handful.
“The way we wanted to go about it was exactly the way it panned out.
“And it’s a great shot in the arm for the boys in terms of confidence levels. The dressing room was a very happy place after the game. It’s important, though, we remember it is just one result.”