Motherwell were edged out by Dundee as Neil McCann’s side leapfrogged the Fir Parkers to leave the Steelmen in the play-off spot.
Despite second half goals from Louis Moult and Chris Cadden prompting a fight back, defensive lapses ultimately had Stephen Robinson’s men chasing the game.
However, for the second time this season, the Dens’ men had a slice of good fortune when Motherwell had a claim for a legitimate goal overlooked.
Captain Keith Lasley was recalled to the starting line-up, taking the midfield berth vacated by the injured Stephen Pearson in an otherwise unchanged ‘Well side.
Hopeful of maintaining the momentum from the last home win over Inverness Caley, the Fir Parkers’ took the game to a Dundee side in their first match under their new manager.
Despite having the bulk of the possession in the first half hour, ‘Well made no impression on Scott Bain’s goal as his team mates happily sat in.
A succession of free kicks from Elliot Frear failed to find a ‘Well player in the box until 30 minutes when the winger’s cross picked out Moult. But after chesting the ball down, the striker’s left foot effort was straight at the ‘keeper.
Five minutes later a lung-bursting run from Frear ended with an inviting cross and although Moult got his head to the ball it was after a push on Darren O’Dea.
With Frear and Chris Cadden unable to get in behind the visitor’s, Bain was untroubled until four minutes from the break when Cadden’s intended cross for Ryan Bowman was dipping under the bar until the Dens’ ‘keeper palmed it over.
It looked like stalemate as half-time loomed, when out of the blue Dundee nicked the lead.
Marcus Haber’s effort was palmed down by Craig Samson but as the ‘keeper scrambled to gather the loose ball Mark O’Hara lashed it high into the net.
If that was a blow to ‘Well’s hopes of taking three points, they were dealt a sickener four minutes after the restart. Kevin Holt was given to much freedom to set up Paul McGowan and although his effort was blocked in the goalmouth, Haber poked the ball over the line to double Dundee’s lead.
Within a minute that was halved and the home hopes lifted. Frear’s inswinging corner found its way to Moult at the far corner of the six-yard box who took a touch before superbly slamming the ball high over a busy goal line for his 14th league goal of the season.
That should have been the springboard for a ‘Well comeback but instead Dundee restored their two goal advantage. Again, Holt had space on the left and his cross found O’Hara diving to head home with a deflection which left Samson wrong footed.
With over 30 minutes remaining there was still time for ‘Well to take something from the game as Lionel Ainsworth replaced Bowman.
And only a great save from Bain denied Frear whose right foot shot from 12 yards was curling inside the post until the Dens’ ‘keeper at full stretch palmed the ball behind.
Shea Gordon and Craig Clay joined the action for the final 20 minutes as ‘Well pushed forward in the hope of pulling a goal back.
And it appeared to have arrived in the 76th minute when Ainsworth’s corner was headed on goal by Ben Heneghan’s and looked well over the line before being cleared by former ‘Well man Tom Hately. But as the ‘Well players turned to celebrate their was no indication from his assistant referee and Steven McLean waved play-on.
Three minutes later the ball was in the Dundee net. Moult’s touch sent Ainsworth through and although he screwed the ball across face of the goal Cadden slid in to guide the ball home and set up a grandstand finish.
As ‘Well chased a deserved equaliser, it took a fine double save from Samson to deny McGowan and Haber, and keep home hopes alive until the final whistle.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 2 – 3 Dundee
90′ | 2-3
83′ | 2-3
Dundee sub, El Bakhtaoui on for Ross.
80′ | 2-3
Cadden gets on the end of Ainsworth’s shot, sliding it into the net.
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76′ | 1-3
Drama again as Heneghan’s header looked to be over the line but no goal given.
72′ | 1-3
Motherwell sub, Clay on for McDonald
69′ | 1-3
Motherwell sub, Lasley makes way for Gordon
62′ | 1-3
Dundee sub, Wighton off for Williams
61′ | 1-3
Great chance for Frear but Bain saves brilliantly, diving low to his left to tip past.
57′ | 1-3
Motherwell sub, Ainsworth on for Bowman.
56′ | 1-3
Goal – Dundee make it 3. Wighton’s cross headed home by O’Hara.
50′ | 1-2
From a corner, Moult gets some space at the back post and superbly lashes it past Bain!
48′ | 0-2
Goal – It’s 0-2 to Dundee. Holt gets dow the left far too easily and from his cross Haber pokes home.
Second half is underway. COYW!!
Both teams are back out. A big 45 minutes lies ahead.
HT: Motherwell 0 – 1 Dundee
45′ | 0-1
Goal – Dundee’s first attack of the game leads to a goal. O’Hara lashes in a loose ball from close range.
42′ | 0-0
Close! Cadden’s cross/shot is heading into the top corner but for the hand of Bain, who tips it over.
37′ | 0-0
Great ball in by Frear forces O’Dea to head over his own bar. From the corner, Bain manages to punch clear for a throw-in.
32′ | 0-0
‘Well have a free-kick in a decent are on the right. Frear will take…..again no chance comes of it.
31′ | 0-0
First decent chance of the game as the ball falls to Moult 10 yards out but he fires straight into the arms of Bain.
28′ | 0-0
Gomis finally booked. Been persistently fouling all game and is now shown the yellow for a foul on McDonald
25′ | 0-0
Free-kick to Motherwell about 30 yards out, whipped in by Frear but Bain punches clear
6′ | 0-0
Dundee have their first corner of the game….Moult does well to head clear.
…played in too deep and it’s cleared for a throw-in.
4′ | 0-0
Frear twists and turns and wins ‘Well a corner on the left…
Lasley gets the game underway. COYW!!!!
Out come both sides, usual colours for both. Kick-off moments away!
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:
Dundee manager Neil McCann: