Phil McGhee Fir Park
A resounding ‘Well win closed the gap on Kilmarnock to three points and ensures that the fight to avoid the play-offs goes on.
After a slow start, two goals from Scott McDonald and Lee Erwin in the latter part of the first half provided Motherwell with the perfect foundation for what should have been a comfortable and well deserved win.
But when Josh Magennis pulled one back for Killie soon after the break, ‘Well fans had to endure a few missed chances and anxious moments before Lionel Ainsworth came off the bench to make it 3-1 and put the game and the three crucial points beyond any doubt.
Knowing that it really was a ‘must win’ game, Ian Baraclough was forced to make one change from the side which drew with Ross County, Simon Ramsden coming in at right back for the injured Josh Law.
The ‘Well defence had an early escape when a Magennis’ pass somehow found its way to the unmarked Paul Cairney but from12 yards his low shot was blocked by George Long.
Not surprisingly, given the stakes, the Fir Park players were are a little nervous in possession and Killie almost made them pay after 15 minutes when Magennis had time to control the ball before firing an angled drive which Long brilliantly blocked with his feet.
It took the home side 22 minutes for their first threat on goal when Marvin Johnson, who was a constant threat on the left, curled the ball towards Scott McDonald but his header drifted harmlessly over.
In their next attack six minutes later, though, ‘Well found the target and take charge of the game.
Lee Erwin showed tremendous skill just inside the box to evade three tackles. And although Craig Samson got down well to parry the young striker’s shot on the line, McDonald nipped in to ram the ball home for his second goal in two games.
Lee Ashcroft was annoyed when he narrowly failed to head home the equaliser on the half hour mark but the Killie centre back was left bamboozled when the home side made it 2-0 seven minutes from the interval.
Lee Erwin appeared to have little options as he chased a long ball at the edge of the box closely marked by Ashcroft. But the striker twice turned his opponent before dragging the ball towards the centre of the box, finishing off a fantastic solo goal by drilling the ball across Samson to put ‘Well in the driving seat.
And a with Killie dazed McDonald almost made it 3-0 but his header from Johnson’s cross was well saved by Samson at the foot of his post.
In attempt to stave off a another crushing defeat Gary Locke made two changes at the interval and within seven minutes they had pulled a goal back.
The ‘Well defence failed to deal with a Jamie Hamill corner and after the ball had floated across the six yard box a few times, Magennis forced it home to give the visitors a lift.
The third goal which would have eased the home fans almost came on the 70th minute. Erwin’s headed flick found McDonald who rolled the ball in front of Conor Grant and his rising shot was netbound until Samson palmed the ball over.
That gave the ‘Well players a spark to their play and another swift move ended with Keith Lasley drilling his shot wide from 20 yards.
Firstly Erwin and then Johnson skied efforts over the bar as the game entered the final 10 minutes on a bit of a knife edge.
With five minutes remaing, Baraclough brought on Lionel Ainsworth and Anthony Straker just in time to see McDonald curl a 25 yard free kick just outside Samson’s right hand post.
But it was left to Ainsworth to make certain of the points in the final minute of normal time. McDonald carried the ball towrds the box before playing in the sub who stepped inside Daryl Westlake before sweeping the ball past Samson for a great finish.
John Sutton then came on for the five minutes of added on time but it was McDonald who might have added another when he raced through the expose Kille defence before forcing a fine diving save from Samson.
However, despite his heroics the Kilmarnock ‘keeper couldn’t prevent his side from slipping to their seventh consecutive defeat and gives the Steelmen hope they can get out of the bottom two.
[tab:As it happened]
Ally Reilly at Fir Park
Great performance and an enormous three points. COYW!!!!
90′ | 3-1 | #MFCvKFC
Almost 4 as McDonald bursts clear but Samson stands tall and diverts it wide for a corner.
90′ | 3-1 | #MFCvKFC
Motherwell sub, Sutton on for Erwin.
90′ | 3-1 | #MFCvKFC
Ainsworth drills it past Samson after being played in McDonald!! Great goal!
87′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
McDonald curls his free-kick from 25 yards just wide of the post with Samson beat!
86′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Motherwell subs, Grant and Hammell off for Ainsworth and Straker
85′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Westlake booked for a late challenge on Erwin….
82′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Erwin cuts past Ashcroft but his shot from just outside the box is high and over the bar.
Young ‘Well fans can vote now for their Man of the Match by using #MatchAttaxMOTM. #MFCvKFC
76′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Barbour is bandaged up and will continue, Johnson back on too.
75′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Sore one for Barbour an Johnson who clash heads going for a header. Both down receiving treatment.
73′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Nice bit of play by Hammell and McDonald sets up Lasley who fires well wide from 25 yards.
71′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Kilmarnock sub, Pascali off for the bearded Connolly
70′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Good save by Samson to beat Grant’s powerful shot over the bar from 15 yards. Corner….cleared by Killie.
68′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Hamill and Pearson booked. Looked like it got a bit heated between the two.
64′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Pascali booked for a late challenge on Pearson. Grant’s delivery is too deep and goes out for goal kick.
63′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
McDonald picks the ball up on the left and crosses high to Erwin but he can only head wide. Awkward chance.
Tonight’s match attendance at Fir Park is 3,986. Thanks as always for joining us. #MFCvKFC
59′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Free-kick to ‘Well in decent area, Johnson delivers and it’s nodded wide by what looked like a Killie player.No corner.
52′ | 2-1 | #MFCvKFC
Goal, Magennis pulls one back for Killie, tapping home from close range
49′ | 2-0 | #MFCvKFC
Killie free-kick in a good wide position,taken short then cleared by Lasley
46′ | 2-0 | #MFCvKFC
Johnson and Lasley get the second 45 underway. COYW!
Half-time | 2-0 | #MFCvKFC
Two Killie subs, McKenzie and Clingan off for Obadeyi and Kiltie.
HALF TIME | #MFCvKFC
Motherwell 2 – 0 Kilmarnock
42′ | 2-0 | #MFCvKFC
Johnson whips in a deep cross which McDonald gets his head to but can’t generate enough power to beat Samson.
41′ | 2-0 | #MFCvKFC
Samson called into action again, this time getting his foot onto Johnson’s powerful low drive. All Motherwell now!
39′ | 2-0 | #MFCvKFC
Hammell does superbly to release Erwin, who shows enough strength and finishes past Samson to make it 2-0!!!!
36′ | 1-0 | #MFCvKFC
Great bit of wing play from Johnson as he skips past Barbour but his drive cross has nobody on the end of it.
35′ | 1-0 | #MFCvKFC
Good play down the left wing leads to a ‘Well corner but Miller and Cairney combine to clear the danger.
30′ | 1-0 | #MFCvKFC
Ashcroft has a free header 6 yards out but somehow fails to hit the target!
26’| 1-0 | #MFCvKFC
Samson can only beat Erwin’s powerful shot out to McDonald who was on hand to tap in from 2 yards!!! 1-0!!
17′ | 0-0 | #MFCvKFC
Strong, strong claim for a penalty there! Westlake appeared to move his arm towards to the ball to clear from Grant.
16′ | 0-0 | #MFCvKFC
Magennis gets a low shot away from a tight angle which ricochets off Hammell.Long does excellently to get a foot on it!
9’| 0-0 | #MFCvKFC
Erwin wins a corner off Pascali…great Conor Grant delivery but nobody on the end of it.
2′ | 0-0 | #MFCvKFC
Big chance for Cairney who gets on the end of a low cross but Long is equal to it and O’Brien mops up!
2′ | 0-0 | #MFCvKFC
Ball falls nicely for Cairney about 25 yards out and he tries his luck. Thankfully it whizzes well wide.
Kick-off | 0-0 | #MFCvKFC
Hamill and McKenzie get the game underway. COYW!!
Motherwell manager Ian Baraclough:
“The win drags us closer to Kilmarnock. What happens in those situations, all of a sudden players get edgy, make decisions that you probably wouldn’t do normally, fans get edgy.
“I feel as though we are a side that are in the ascendancy but it’s all to play for. There are two massive games now for both us and Kilmarnock and it gets us closer and they know we are on their tails.”
Kilmarnock manager Gary Locke:
“We knew if we got a result tonight we were okay. The fact that Motherwell have beaten us, we are right in the mix.
“No point feeling sorry for ourselves, we have got to make sure we respond. We have been on a terrible run and we have to rectify that next week.”