A stunning late equaliser from on-form Danny Johnson, earned ‘Well a share of the points –and a third consecutive home draw with Celtic.
After a most unfortunate opening 13 minutes, when ‘Well lost two defenders and the opening goal to Ryan Christie, the Steelmen recovered to produce a gutsy second half performance.
But just when it seemed that their efforts would go unrewarded Danny Johnson produced a terrific equaliser three minutes from time, and have the ‘Well fans on their feet until the final whistle.
However, the turning point came five minutes from the interval when Mark Gillespie’s wonderful save denied Leigh Griffiths a second and decisive goal.
Motherwell took heart from that and having created the majority of the chances in the second half were well worth a share of the points.
Peter Hartley and Carl McHugh returned from suspension and with Connor Sammon partnering Danny Johnson up front, the Fir Park line-up added some steel through the spine of the side.
Liam Donnelly returned after a six week injury to fill the right back berth in a solid looking back four.
But it was at the other end, in ‘Well’s first attack that Donnelly combined with McHugh and his tempting cross into the six yard area was headed clear by the towering Filip Benkovic.
Sadly, Hartley’s involvement was curtailed after only four minutes, a knee injury forcing him off, with McHugh fallling back and Andy Rose coming on to take a midfield role.
A few minutes later Mark Gillespie made his first save comfortably catching Callum McGregor’s 20 yard drive.
With only 12 minutes played Stephen Robinson game plan was throw into disarray when Donnelly limped off. However, before Adam Livingstone could come on to make his senior debut at left back, the home side were a goal behind.
It was a double blow for the home side as Christie galloped into the space vacated by Donnelly before squeezing the ball beyond Gillespie and inside the ‘keeper’s far post.
Motherwell almost had the perfect response when Sammon headed for the visitor’s end before cutting the ball back to Alan Campbell. He then laid the ball into the path of David Turnbull at the edge of the box but his well driven shot flew over Craig Gordon’s bar.
For the remainder of the half the Parkhead men held the bulk of possession but never troubled the home goal – although Benkovic forced the ball into the net only to have his counter disallowed.
Other than that Gillespie was untroubled until five minutes from half-time. And even then Celtic’s effort from the penalty spot was self-inflicted. There was little danger when Rose clattered Christie on the byeline but referee Kevin Clancy had little sympathy as he pointed to the spot.
It seemed certain that ‘Well would fall two behind as the reliable Griffiths stepped up to take the kick. However, Gillespie pulled off a fabulous double save, diving low to his left to block the initial shot and then recovering to punch the ball away as the Scotland striker raced onto the rebound.
The half-time break appeared to steady the Fir Park men after their early upsets as they pushed the game towards the Celtic goal from the restart.
Within three minutes Campbell worked a one –two with Sammon before his shot from 20 yards forced Gordon into his first real save.
The Scotland under 21 midfielder then had another effort from the centre of the box deflected behind before a strong crossfield run from Turnbull ended with a shot wide of target.
After 66 minutes Johnson’s well meant header drifted over Gordon and the bar but the ‘Well fans sensed that an equaliser might be on the cards. Five minutes later, and after an exhausting hour on his debut, Livingstone was replaced by Curtis Main as ‘Well contested the last 20 minutes with three forwards on the pitch.
Nine minutes from time Sammon came close to rewarding the side’s second half efforts. Having latched on to a loose ball in the middle of the park the on loan Hearts’ striker powered towards the visitor’s goal but with Johnson on his right he dragged the ball on to his left foot before driving low to the keeper’s left forcing a fine diving save from Gordon.
‘Well continued to chase a leveler and it arrived three minutes from time. As the ball bounced around at the corner of a packed penalty box Turnbull fed the ball to Johnson. From a really tight angle the former Gateshead striker unleashed a superb low drive which zipped past Gordon and inside the ‘keeper’s far post.
There was still time for Celtic to respond but with McHugh and Tom Aldred brilliantly marshalling the defence for the entire second half, Gillespie finished the game without a single second half threat to his goal.