The pressure of relegation increased as ‘Well failed to collect any points from their second home game, when yet another defensive lapse allowed Chris Routis to nick the only goal of the game for the Dingwall side.
The result lifts County seven clear of the Fir Park men, who now find themselves in a three way fight with Accies and ICT to avoid relegation.
Stephen Robinson made a bold call, replacing under fire Craig Samson with Russell Griffiths, but a tame ninety minutes left the on-loan Everton ‘keeper with little to do.
There was also a start for Lionel Ainsworth allowing Chris Cadden to be deployed on the right of a more structured back four.
In their usual pressing start, ‘Well forced four corners in the opening minutes but like the remainder of nine flag kicks they earned in a dominant first half, the home side failed to test Scott Fox.
In truth, in a half devoid of action, the County ‘keeper made only one save, firmly holding a Scott McDonald drive.
Thankfully, the second half was a more livelier affair – particularly as the home side chased three crucial points.
Twice in the opening ten minutes Elliot Frear sent tempting balls across the face of the goal with no takers. The left sided wide man then decided to take the more direct route. However, his diagonal run for goal was halted by Jason Naismith at the corner of the six yard box, but as the ‘Well winger tumbled to the ground, appeals for a penalty were waived aside by referee Bobby Madden.
Two minutes later, Griffiths made his first and only real save rising high to his left to confidently hold Craig Curran’s header.
That save was bettered on the hour mark. Keith Lasley’s surging run, with McDoanld and Moult in support, was ended abruptly 25 yards out. From the resultant free kick, Fox produced a terrific save throwing himself low to his left and to push Lionel Ainsworth’s screamer from 25 yards round the post.
Motherwell looked the more likely to score but the Fir Park fans were stunned in the 71st minute when the visitors stole the lead.
The ball should have been guided out of play by substitute Zak Jules but when County gained possession, Reghan Tumilty lofted the ball in to the box where a lucky scuffed effort from Tim Chow flicked up to the back post allowing Chris Routis to stab it past the helpless Griffiths.
That knocked the stuffing out of the Steelmen – although they pushed for a deserved equaliser until the final whistle. Craig Clay’s shot which was blocked on its way to goal was as close as they came to a point which would have taken them above Accies, with next week’s crucial trip to Hamilton looming.
[tab:As it happened]
Alastair Reilly at Fir Park
FT: Motherwell 0 – 1 Ross County
90+3 | 0-1
Corner to ‘Well….
Three minutes added on….
…..ball is swung in but it won’t fall for a ‘Well man and County clear.
90′ | 0-1
Clay wins a free-kick wide on the right….
86′ | 0-1
Bowman does well down the right and wins a corner but again no chance comes of it.
82′ | 0-1
Motherwell sub, Clay on for Campbell
75′ | 0-1
Motherwell sub, Bowman on for Ainsworth
72′ | 0-1
Goal – County take the lead. Routis getting on the end of a cross which was flicked into his path.
66′ | 0-0
Motherwell sub, Hammell off for Jules.
64′ | 0-0
Ross County sub, O’Brien off for Franks
….Fox forced into a great low save to deny Ainsworth the opener!
62′ | 0-0
Lasley bursts forward and is hacked down by O’Brien who is booked. Free-kick about 30 yards out……
62′ | 0-0
Moult steals the ball off Davies, threads in Ainsworth but his shot from a tight angle hits the sidenetting
56′ | 0-0
Claims for a penalty as Frear gets across his man and goes down but ref gives a corner.
49′ | 0-0
Another great ball in from Frear but again the finish can’t be applied.
48′ | 0-0
Chance! Frear gets down the left and whips in a great ball which finds McHugh but he nods over.
Second half is underway. COYW!!
Half-time change for County, Tumilty on for Van Der Weg
HT: Motherwell 0 – 0 Ross County
44′ | 0-0
McDonald wins a free-kick in a good area. Will be swung in by Ainsworth…gathered safely by Fox.
42′ | 0-0
Motherwell with another corner, taken by Ainsworth but McHugh judged to have fouled his man.
33′ | 0-0
Decent effort from McDonald from 20 yards but it’s a routine save for Fox.
32′ | 0-0
Cadden’s cross is knocked out for a corner….ball falls to Lasley whose clipped ball is nodded out for another corner.
28′ | 0-0
County forced into a change, Routis on for Dow.
22′ | 0-0
Half-way through the first half and there has been little to talk about. Still 0-0.
10′ | 0-0
Chance! Hammel breaks and feeds it wide to Frear who fizzes a ball across goal but with no takers!
3′ | 0-0
Gardyne advances forward, cuts inside but fires well over with his weaker foot.
2′ | 0-0
County clear but McHugh does well to force another corner. From that delivery it’s headed wide for another corner.
1′ | 0-0
Early corner for ‘Well after Hammell’s cross is knocked wide.
Dow gets the game underway. COYW!!!
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson:
Ross County manager Jim McIntyre: