Motherwell collected a hard-earned point from a tough, scrappy affair against high-flying Livingston.
However, having taken an early lead through Ryan Bowman, the Fir Parkers were left fighting to take a point after Keaghan Jacobs struck a stunning equaliser and ‘Well were left with 10 men for the final 15 minutes after Carl McHugh received a second yellow card.
After three punishing games on the road, Stephen Robinson made a few changes for their return to Fir Park. Peter Hartley returned from injury to form a back three with Tom Aldred and Liam Donnelly. Allan Campbell resumed his midfield role along with Andy Rose in a five-man midfield.
Third-placed Livi looked intent on extending their super form and pressed the home goal from the start. The under pressure ‘Well defence was happy to see Scott Robinson’s shot deflected wide of Trevor Carson’s goal before Dolly Menga’s header drifted on to the top of the net.
The first save though came at the other end in the 14 minute and although McHugh controlled his 20 yard volley well, Liam Kelly comfortably held his shot.
Two minutes later, the Livingston ‘keeper was beaten. Campbell broke to the edge of the visitor’s box before laying the ball into Bowman’s path. And although his shot was on target as Craig Hackett slid in to block, his deflection carried the ball beyond his ’keeper to put the hosts ahead.
The West Lothian defence then survived a bout of pressure, blocking successive shots from Chris Cadden and McHugh, before Curtis Main nodded the ball wide.
After 23 minutes, Livi fans celebrated what they thought was equaliser when Keaghan Jacobs’ corner into a packed six-yard box ended with the ball rolling over the goal line. But celebrations were cut short, when referee Willie Collum awarded ‘Well a free kick as Carson had been impeded.
Livingston’s direct route from their keeper still kept the ‘Well back three occupied but in truth Carson was never tested.
Despite having the bulk of the play, the visitors were lucky not to concede another goal amidst appeals for penalty six minutes from the break.
Andy Rose had his effort blocked eight yards from goal and as the ball bounced around the box Bowman had two efforts on goal blocked, the second coming off a defender’s arm but claims for a penalty were waved aside by the referee.
The pattern of play continued after the break as ‘Well’s careless use of the ball provided Livingston with plenty of possession and the opportunity to put the home defence under almost constant pressure.
Despite a couple of crosses and corners from Cadden the flow of play was one way and Livi were finally rewarded with an equaliser after 62 minutes.
Hartley tugged Menga’s jersey five yards outside the box. The ‘Well captain was booked but worse was to follow when from the resultant free kick Jacobs superbly curled the ball over the defensive wall and into Carson’s top left hand corner.
There was plenty of time for the Steelmen to regain the lead and with 18 minutes remaining, Robinson made a double substitution in the hope that Gael Bigirimana would bring composure and Danny Johnson a winning goal.
However, before either could make an impact, ‘Well were reduced to 10 men when Carl McHugh was shown his second yellow card inside seven minutes.
Motherwell reverted to a back four but showed some grit and urgency as they chased a winner. A minute from time, some pressure on the visitors gave Bowman possession but his ambitious drive from 30 yards was straight into Kelly’s arms.
Then in injury time, a Steven Lawless corner was directed towards goal but the combined efforts of Carson and Campbell cleared the ball of the line and leave both teams settling for a share of the points.