Phil McGhee Fir Park
A Lionel Ainsworth winner six minutes from time earned 10-man Motherwell their first win of 2015.
More importantly, in halting third placed ICT’s impressive unbeaten run of 10 games, the Fir Park side’s performance brought hope to the much-maligned support, who watched their side battle for the whole ninety minutes at a rain-drenched Fir Park.
Undoubtedly, the return of Scott McDonald in a ‘Well shirt had a major influence. But the commitment and passion of the entire team was commendable.
And having watched Louis Laing’s 48th minute opener cancelled out by Edward Ofere’s equaliser 15 minutes from time, it would have been easy to settle for a point. However, on a sodden pitch, ‘Well showed great grit and determination, especially playing the final five minutes with 10 men after Simon Ramsden was sent off.
Not surprisingly, Scott McDonald came straight into the home attack but it was alongside Lee Erwin at the expense of John Sutton. Stephen Pearson returned from injury and Josh Law was recalled as Craig Moore and Anthony Straker dropped out of last week’s line-up.
And literally from the kick-off ‘Well put Caley under immense pressure. Following a couple of corners from Connor Grant, Pearson had the first chance but he volleyed over the bar. Marvin Johnson, who showed great touches in spells, was next to threaten the visitor’s goal but his low drive from outside the box skimmed past the far post.
It was almost a dream second debut for McDonald when, after only 10 minutes, he latched onto Erwin’s knock down but from the angle of the six yard box he hooked his shot over the bar.
Motherwell’s pressing game, with McDonald making his presence felt in and around the visitor’s box, had Caley looking unusually ragged.
Indeed it took John Hughes’ men about 30 minutes to get into their stride and make any threat on George Long’s goal.
However, after Greg Tansey had fired a couple of efforts harmlessly over the bar, the ‘Well ‘keeper produced a crucial save to prevent his side falling behind two minutes from the interval.
Josh Law, who had an otherwise solid game at right back, was short with a headed pass back and Danny Williams looked certain to capitalise as he side stepped round the grounded ‘keeper but Long’s outstretched hand somehow clawed the ball away from the striker’s feet for a stunning save.
‘Well then had a chance to head for the dressing room with a lead their first half efforts deserved but Grant’s low free kick round the defensive wall was well held by Ryan Essen low to his right.
It took the home side only three minutes into the second half to take the lead when Grant’s magnificent curling cross was met full on by the inrushing Louis Laing whose thundering header flashed past Essen and high into the net.
That forced Caley to be a bit more positive and the Fir Park goal had a couple of lucky escapes when efforts from Williams and Ofere hit the frame of the goal.
The Caley centre was not to be denied and when Graeme Shinnie swept his cross into the six yard box Ofere rose highest to powerfully head the ball beyond Long.
Ian Baraclough used all three substitutions bringing on Sutton, Moore and Ainworth. And it was the introduction of the latter which was the most dramatic snatching the winner within five minutes of coming on.
Grant’s corner from the right eluded everyone in a packed penalty area. But when Ainsworth collected the ball at the other side of the box he had only one thought, taking a couple of strides before drilling his shot low through a ruck of legs, with a slight deflection taking it beyond Essen and into the corner of the net.
In a dramatic final few minutes ‘Well performed heroics to defend their lead especially when Simon Ramsden was shown a second yellow card.
But Baraclough’s boys held on for their first win of the year and although the three points wasn’t enough to lift them off the foot of the table, the performance and result could prove to be a significant turning point in ‘Well’s season.
The Fir Park boss will be in the ears of his players trying to ensure they look to build on their win when Kilmarnock visit next Saturday.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
Special mention to the fans again who were great. Drove the team right to the final whistle. Superb! #MFCvICTFC
Had to grind it out in the end but a great three points for The Steelmen! #MFCvICTFC
FT: Motherwell 2 -1 Inverness CT!!
93mins: Great tackle from Laing to deny Ferguson at the last second #MFCvICTFC
92mins: ICT win a corner after shot is deflected wide #MFCvICTFC
3 minutes added on. #MFCvICTFC
88mins: Red card! Ramsden is sent marching for his second booking. #MFCvICTFC
84mins: AINSWORTH cuts in on his right foot and fires low past Esson to make it 2-1!! #MFCvICTFC
80mins: Final Motherwell sub, Johnson off for Ainsworth #MFCvICTFC
76mins: Motherwell sub, Moore on for Erwin #MFCvICTFC
75mins: Goal, Ofere heads home the equaliser. 1-1 #MFCvICTFC
74mins: Devine is booked for throwing the ball away in anger #MFCvICTFC
72mins: ICT sub, Ross off for Doran #MFCvICTFC
70mins: Ofere picks the ball up about 20 yards out but shoots incredibly well wide #MFCvICTFC
68mins: Motherwell sub, McDonald makes way for Sutton #MFCvICTFC
60mins: Esson does well to deal with Grants long range shot which bounces just in front of him #MFCvICTFC
59mins: Tansey is booked for deliberate hand ball #MFCvICTFC
57mins: ICT sub, Williams off for Ferguson #MFCvICTFC
54mins: Finally the ref gets his card out and produces a booking to Draper for a bad tackle on Lasley #MFCvICTFC
53mins: Ofere’s header comes back of the base of the post. Thankfully McManus scoops clear. #MFCvICTFC
52mins: Raven hauls down Johnson. It’s cynical, and again no card is shown by ref #MFCvICTFC
51mins: Tansey’s long range strike hit the top of the bar. Close, but never looked like going in #MFCvICTFC
47mins: Grant’s cross is met by the head of LAING who bullets it into the net! 1-0. #MFCvICTFC
47mins: Erwin’s shot is deflected wide for a corner…GGOOOAALLL!!
Second 45 is underway. COYW!!! #MFCvICTFC
A vastly improved first 45, just lacking the killer touch. Positive signs nonetheless #MFCvICTFC
HT: Motherwell 0 – 0 Inverness CT #MFCvICTFC
46mins: Grant gets it on target but Esson saves #MFCvICTFC
46mins: Draper yanks Erwin down by his shirt. Surely a booking but no, just a free-kick on the edge of the box. #MFCvICTFC
Just as well, would have been completely against the run of play and a real sore one to take. #MFCvICTFC
44mins: Magnificent save from Long as Williams latched onto a slack backpass and should have scored. Long got an arm to it and gathers!!
33mins: Incredibly Ramsden is booked for what again looked like a good challenge. Gifts ICT a free-kick on the edge of the box #MFCvICTFC
28mins: Great battling and harrying from Johnson to get the ball back. He opts to shoot form narrow angle and it goes just wide #MFCvICTFC
26mins: Pearson booked for what looked like a fair tackle on Ross. #MFCvICTFC
23mins: Tansey finds some space 20 yards out but blasts well over. Normally does better in those situations #MFCvICTFC
19mins: Johnson slides in a lovely low cross which Shinnie only just gets to ahead of McDonald. #MFCvICTFC
16mins: Ofere with a horribly clumsy challenge on Lasley but not even booked? #MFCvICTFC
13mins: McDonald wins another corner. From the delivery, Laing’s shot is blocked then he is penalised for being stronger in the tackle.
11mins: Great chance for McDonald as he latches onto Erwrin’s flick on but can’t keep his volley down. Just over! #MFCvICTFC
9mins: Quick passing allows McDonald to setup Johnson whose first time shot trickles inches past the post. An entertaining start #MFCvICTFC
8mins: Caley break up the park and Tansey uleashes a great effort from 30 yards which flies just over the bar #MFCvICTFC
6mins: From that corner, ball pingballs to Pearson inside the box but he volleys over #MFCvICTFC
6mins: McDonald wins a free-kick, wide on the right…Grant delivers and Devine slices clear for a corner. #MFCvICTFC
Ball falls to Laing but his volley is blocked. Seconds later, Grant whips in a ball which is just too high for McDonald#MFCvICTFC
3mins: Law wins the first corner of the game. #MFCvICTFC
The Steelmen look to be shaping up in a 4-4-2 formation, Erwin and McDonald up front. #MFCvICTFC
Ofere and Christie get the action underway. COYW! #MFCvICTFC
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“It’s an emotional game and there was a full range of emotions going through, I can tell you.
“But the biggest one was pleasure for the lads because it was a real effort, not just from the 11, those that were on the bench, those that were disappointed not even to be in the squad, but everyone rallying round before the game. Everyone knows what it means.
“I said it last week, we have got to throw those shackles off and get people backing us and that’s what we did today.”
Inverness CT manager John Hughes:
“We certainly deserved to take something from the game – hitting the woodwork twice. But our passing was sloppy and I was disappointed that we never got our football going.”