Motherwell opened their Under 20s campaign with a well-deserved 2-4 win over Ross County at the Highland Football Academy.
A Ben Hall header had the Fir Parkers in front before Darren Holden brought things level with a fierce shot from the edge of the area.
However, quick-fire goals from Lionel Ainsworth and Dom Thomas soon had ‘Well back in a commanding lead before the break.
Ainsworth scored again to assure the win, albeit County did reduce the arrears late in the game via a Keiran Kennedy own goal.
Stephen Craigan named several experienced heads in his starting eleven with first-teamers Lionel Ainsworth, Keiran Kennedy, Dom Thomas and Chris Cadden taking their place in Claret and Amber.
County made a positive start to the match and almost took the lead inside the opening two minutes. After working a short corner towards the edge of the area, McLennan’s effort got caught in the strong wind blowing across the pitch and came crashing back off Brett Long’s post.
‘Well went immediately on the attack and Ainsworth smashed a shot inches over the crossbar.
However, with their next attack, Craigan’s men would take the lead. Ainsworth’s corner found Ben Hall inside the area and the Northern Irishman rose at the far post to head home.
The conditions were playing a part, making it difficult for either team to defend and Tony Dingwall almost drew his side level with a low shot into the side netting. Two minutes later, and down the other end, Keiran Kennedy almost got in from a corner but his spin and shot came back off the County crossbar.
It stayed at 0-1 until the 24th minute when County got themselves back on level terms. Left back Holden had got up well to support from a County attack and when the ball was rolled back to him, he smashed it high past Brett Long at his near post.
‘Well had a trialist midfielder on show and he almost made a big impression on the half hour, but his low curling effort across the goalkeeper bounced off the frame of the goal before being hooked clear.
County survived that scare but a 90 second spell shortly after all but sealed the victory for the visitors with two quick-fire goals.
The first, on the 34th minute, was created by the impressive Allan Campbell, whose sixty-yard pass played in Ainsworth who kept his composure to lift the ball over Foden and into the net.
Just seconds later, it was 3-1 and it was another ball over the top, this time from Dylan Mackin for Dom Thomas who slotted it under Foden from a tight angle.
Incredibly, Motherwell almost scored a fourth goal just two minutes later when Jack McMillan cross caught the wind before crashing back off the crossbar – the third time in the half the Steelmen had hit the frame of the goal.
Motherwell started the second much the same way the first ended and Lionel Ainsworth almost added his second of the day, but his sweetly struck volley flew just wide of target.
Dom Thomas was causing all sorts of problems and he created ‘Well’s fourth just before the hour. Twisting and turning, he got away from his marker before squaring for Ainsworth who calmly fired past Foden.
It was almost 5-1 within two minutes, this time it was Cadden with a free header inside the area, but Foden managed to get a stray leg to it, making the impressive block.
Motherwell continued to dominate and they almost scored a wonder goal via sub Ryan Watters. Thomas twisted and turned, terrorizing the home fullback, before knocking it into the middle for Mackin who flicked it back for the young striker but Foden again saved his low shot.
It wasn’t the end of the scoring though as with fourteen minutes left to play, County grabbed a consolation when Keiran Kennedy inadvertently bundled a Dingwall shot past Brett Long and into his own net.
There was a couple of half chances for both sides in the closing stages as the torrential rain hit the Highland Football Academy, but nothing could dampen the ‘Well spirits as they travelled down the A9 with all three points for the second time in four days.
Motherwell: Long, McMillan, Hall, Kennedy, Ferguson, Ainsworth (Watters – 65mins), Campbell, Cadden, Trialist, Thomas, Mackin (Hastie – 76mins)
Subs Not Used: Morrison, Moore, R.Leitch, Maguire, Livingstone