Phil McGhee at Fir Park
Motherwell tightened their grip on seventh spot after edging out Dundee in a tightly contested affair.
After falling behind to a Genseric Kusunga goal, Ryan Bowman netted an equaliser before Cedric Kipre, with his first goal for the club, grabbed the winner shortly after half-time.
‘Well kicked off in the knowledge that they were mathematically clear of the automatic relegation spot. Stephen Robinson’s men, though, were determined to distance themselves from the dogfight to avoid the play-off spot. With Dundee still among that pack a tough ninety minutes was anticipated from a side which hadn’t lost at Fir park since 2015.
The ‘Well line-up had that familiar look and shape about it. Curtis Main, with a splint to protect his left wrist, was able to lead the line alongside Bowman who passed up the first chance of the game. Only Andy Rose was missing from last week’s starting line-up.
After only six minutes Chris Cadden’s cross picked out Bowman in the six yard box. Having directed his header onto the post, the big striker then stooped to meet the rebound only to aim the ball straight at the startled ‘keeper.
Dundee’s response was immediate with Mark O’Hara’s low shot forcing Trevor Carson into an early save.
The Fir Park ‘keeper then produced another couple of saves, standing firm to repel Simon Murray’s thumping drive, before turning Steven Caulker’s header over the bar.
The ‘Well defence struggled to match the physical presence of the former Liverpool man and paid the price after 24 minutes. He climbed highest to direct Paul McGowan’s corner towards a packed goalmouth where Kusunga applied the touch to carry the ball over the line.
That prompted an immediate response from the Steelmen with a bit more urgency about their play. Charles Dunne failed to get enough purchase on Cadden’s first corner. But from the second the full back powered his header towards goal with Bowman steering it high into the net to level the scores.
A few minutes later Alan Campbell won the ball in the middle of the visitor’s half providing Curtis Main with the chance to hit a ferocious 25 yard drive which Elliot Parish was happy to parry wide.
For the remainder of the half the the action switched from end to end with neither team dominating, although ‘Well were dealt a blow five minutes from the break when Bowman limped off and replaced with 17-year old James Scott.
The start of the second half was delayed for five minutes while Dundee scorer Kusunga received treatment on the pitch before being stretchered off. When the game finally got underway it was the home side that looked more fired up – taking the lead within five minutes.
In a well-worked free kick Cadden exchanged passes with Main before curling a tempting ball to the back post where Kipre gladly accepted, powering his header between Parish and his left hand post.
However, with the Dens Park side desperate to take something from the game Carson was still the busier ‘keeper producing two decent stops to deny Kevin Holt and O’Mara.
For the the final ten minutes Carson’s goal was under siege from a succession of corners and crosses. The 913-strong travelling support behind the ’keeper’s goal thought they had snatched a point only to see O’Hara fire over the bar from close range, ending the visitors hopes.