A 10-man Motherwell side, cursed by misfortune, fell to single goal defeat against high-flying Kilmarnock.
Three head injuries inside the opening 25 minutes to Carl McHugh, Charles Dunne and Christian Mbulu, who all required hospital treatment, forced repeated re-arrangement to an already injury ravaged ‘Well line-up.
Curtis Main, who also received a head injury in that crazy 10-minute spell, bravely played on and still required treatment in the second half until 20 minutes from time when he was shown a double yellow card for lashing out at Stephen O’Donnell.
By that stage the Fir Park men were behind to Jordan Jones’ goal, which to add insult to ‘Well’s injuries, as it fell into the category of cross-cum shot.
However, while still only a goal behind the Steelmen kept their shape, showed great courage and determination and continued to push for a deserved equaliser until the final whistle.
With Stephen Robinson watching from the stand, the Fir Park boss made three changes to the ‘Well line-up following the disappointment of the defeat to St Mirren.
Aaron Taylor-Sinclair and Elliot Frear came in to fill berths on the left allowing Ricard Tait to revert to his right back slot. With Carl McHugh stepping back into the back four, Alex Gorrin replaced the ill David Turnbull in midfield.
Frear, appearing on the right created the first chance after nine minutes but although his cross found Danny Johnson at the back post the striker, at full stretch, could only guide the ball over the bar.
A minute later a horrific clash of heads between McHugh and Dunne had serious consequences for both players and the team. After six minutes treatment on the pitch Dunne was carried off on a stretcher, while a shaky looking McHugh was helped up the tunnel.
That enforced a very early double substitution with Gael Bigirimana and Christian Mbulu coming into a rearranged line-up.
Incredibly the latter’s contribution lasted less than ten minutes when the ball caught him full in the eye. ‘Well were then temporarily down to nine men as Curtis Main received treatment for boot in the head before he returned to the action and Liam Grimshaw replaced the unlucky Mbulu.
This was all before the midpoint in the first half when the most involved people were the physios and medical team.
As Keith Lasley desperately tried to organise the Fir Park side from the touchline, Jordan Jones whizzed a low drive across Mark Gillespie’s goal and just outside the far post.
The Killie winger was luckier several minutes from half time when he collected the ball wide on the left and then curled a cross over a packed box, the ‘Well ‘keeper and under the cross bar for another blow to the Steelmen.
Then, in the first of seven minutes injury time, Kris Boyd tried to catch out Gillespie with a floated effort from 25 yards but the ‘Well ‘keeper confidently claimed the ball a couple of yards from his goal line.
In the final minute of additional time Motherwell almost snatched the equaliser. Grimshaw, who had a terrific game, showed great determination on the right before crossing the ball to Johnson.
With his back to goal he played the ball into the path of Frear and his effort from four yards was netbound until it was blocked by the combined efforts of Stepehen O’Donnell and his ‘keeper Danny Bachmann.
After Main’s dismissal, Gillespie kept his side’s slim hopes of an equaliser alive with a couple of saves, diving to hold Chris Burke’s drive and then bravely racing from his line to smother the ball at the feet of the Rory McKenzie.
In a storming finish and pushed on by Tait who outstanding having occupied every position in the back four, ‘Well created a series of chances.
Six minutes from time Tom Aldred rose to meet Frear’s in-swinging corner only to power his header wide of target.
Urged on by an appreciative home support ‘Well continued to push forward and Grimshaw’s ball across the visitor’s box found Bigirimana ghosting in but his ambitious volley drove the ball wide.
In the final minute, and with the Rugby Park men hanging on to their slender lead, they withstood appeals for a penalty when O’Donnell caught Frear at the corner of the box.
Despite their brave performance ‘Well finished empty handed and now face Accies on Saturday’s derby in the final match of the year, with a largely depleted team.