Motherwell emerged from a very physical encounter at the Tony Macaroni Arena with their first point of the season.
It was a hard shift for the Steelmen as Mark Gillespie extended his shut outs to five games.
Motherwell kicked off the new Ladbrokes Premiership season where they signed off – facing Livingston.
However, only five players which started against Livi back in May made Stephen Robinson’s starting team. That made way for five of the summer signing to make their league debut, with Declan Gallagher returning to his former ground.
The first cheer from the 1400 ‘Well fans crowded in the away stand was for the appearance of David Turnbull, making his way on crutches to join the Fir Park contingent.
On a perfect summer’s day for football, ‘Well kicked off the new campaign in their all white strip. Things looked promising as the Steelmen were on the front foot from the start.
However, despite some long diagonal passes from Charles Dunne picking out Christian Ilic’s and Richard Tait’s runs on the right and James Scott pressing through the middle, finding a route to Ross Stewart’s goal was proving difficult.
Although the artificial surface was perfect for keeping the ball on the deck the first half was littered with a series of aerial challenges, with Ilic collecting a booking after a couple of midfield tussles.
The home side fared no better in its attempts to test Mark Gillespie’s goal.
It was fully 30 minutes before the first shot at goal arrived – and even then Keaghan Jacobs dragged his drive wide of goal.
Thankfully the action around both goals picked up in the 10 minutes before half time.
Jermaine Hylton’s quick feet and smart pass found Ilic; who turned inside before testing the ‘keeper with a low left foot shot.
A minute later Stewart had a more impressive stop beating away Jake Carroll’s thumping drive from a tight angle.
It was finally Gillespie’s turn to get into the action when he leapt full length to turn Aymen Souda’s overhead kick round his post. From the resultant corner Gillespie was again the hero getting to his back post to push Alan Lithgow’s header over the bar.
A minute from half-time the ‘Well ‘keeper had to thank his team mates to keep his goal intact. Having gone to ground to block Scott Pittman’s route to goal he chased the Livi midfielder to the edge of the box, leaving Gallagher to head Pittman’s lofted shot off the goal line.
Having held on until the interval the Fir Park returned for the second 45 with Sherwin Seedorf replacing Ilic.
And his first contribution came within minutes sending a tempting ball into the six yard area which Stewart claimed from Scott’s head.
Livi’s Souda still posed a threat and latching on to Jacobs’ pass he fired into the side netting.
After 52 minutes, Stephen Robinson made his second change, with Christopher Long taking over Scott’s striker’s role.
And in his first challenge the ball broke to Alan Campbell, who in turn sent Hylton racing in behind the home defence but Stewart was quickly off his line to block the danger.
At the other end a short free kick gave Lithgow the opening to strike a shot down the middle of the goal but it was easily collected by Gillespie.
With Hylton and Seedorf threatening from both wings Motherwell started to find some openings and when Gallagher headed Carroll’s header towards goal, there was a scramble on the home goal line to clear the ball.
The best chance arrived after 66 minutes when Campbell sent Tait into the box but having checked inside his marker the ‘Well captain’s finish with the outside of his right boot was easily saved by Stewart.
As the game reverted to a midfield tussle, Devante Cole was given the final 10 minutes to make an impact.
However, it was Gillespie who earned ‘Well a point standing up to ex Well man Nicky Devlin, to superbly block his drive from eight yards.
In the closing minutes Declan Gallagher came close to making a winning return to Livingston when firstly he nodded on Liam Polworth’s cross forcing the ‘keeper to palm the dipping ball over his bar.
Gallagher then met Carroll’s inswinging corner only to power his header narrowly over the top.
In added time Gallagher had one final attempt from yet another Carroll corner but could only guide his header over the Livingston goal.