Back-to-back home wins strengthened Motherwell’s grip on third place, as Livingston were defeated 2-1.
An Allan Campbell goal seven minutes from time to earn the maximum points from a stuffy visiting side.
Both defences were solid and mean, with goal chances few and far between in an uneventful first half.
However, some good fortune helped Christopher Long and a Steve Lawless grab a goal apiece at the start of the second half and provide the fans with an entertaining second 45 – before ‘Well found the late winner.
Not surprisingly, Stephen Robinson stood by the same line-up which defeated the Ayrshire side in mid-week. That allowed Devante Cole and Long, on the back of three consecutive starts together, the chance to develop their striking partnership.
However, it was Livingston who threatened in the early stages. In the eighth minute, and with ‘Well yet to get a touch in the visitor’s box the first chance fell to Scott Tiffoney.
The Livi striker, who scored a couple of cracking goals on his last visit in May, thought he was on the scoresheet again until his net bound drive from eight yards was deflected over the bar by Declan Gallagher.
Six minutes later, after Hakeem Odoffin hauled back Jermaine Hylton’s progress on the left wing, Liam Polworth’s free kick provided the first test for the Livi defence.
That signalled a bit of pressure from the home side and a well rehearsed corner after 18 minutes almost led to the breakthrough. Polworth swept the flag kick out to the edge of the penalty area to set up Liam Donnelly whose low drive was on target until Marvin Bartley blocked it six yards from goal.
The Fir Park men had plenty of the ball around the visitor’s third of the pitch but on a number of occasions they failed to get crosses beyond the first defender.
The West Lothian side were still dangerous on the break and Tiffoney’s drive from the corner of the box had Mark Gillespie at full stretch as the ball deflected just wide of the ‘keeper’s right hand post.
Nine minutes from the interval, Matija Sarkic made his first save. Cole lost the ball at the edge of the box but it rolled into Long’s path and his firmly struck rising drive was parried by the Livi ‘keeper.
Other than that the first half was a bit of a stalemate, as for the second time in four days the Steelmen found it difficult to get in behind a solid visiting rearguard.
More was expected from the home side in the second half and they were given a big helping hand from Sarkic as they broke the deadlock two minutes after the restart.
It was a good build up from the back as Peter Hartley and then Jake Carroll worked the ball inside to Polworth. His long ground pass found Long at the corner of the box and although there was plenty of power in his low drive, the on-loan Aston Villa ‘keeper should have done a lot better than allowing the ball to squirm from his hands and roll inside the post.
After the poor first half, the Fir Park fans were not complaining as Sarkic was consoled by his team mates.
At least the goal opened up the game with Livingston much more intent on getting forward in pursuit of an equaliser.
The visitors then got their own slice of luck in the 57th minute when the assistant referee indicated it was a penalty a penalty after Cole ran into the back of Tiffoney as they both headed out of the box.
As the striker received treatment, Gary Holt made a unique substitution sending on Steve Lawless to take the penalty. And the ex-Well man made no mistake from the spot sending his first touch of the ball high beyond the diving Gillespie to make it 1-1.
That handed the initiative to the Lions and Gillespie was forced into a good save to push Tiffoney’s angled drive round his post.
That encouraged ‘Well to make their first change after 65 minutes, James Scott coming on for Cole. With 15 minutes remaining, and little sign of ‘Well reclaiming the lead, Sherwin Seedorf joined the action with Hylton making way.
Almost immediately ‘Well conjured up a chance. A long through ball for Long rolled away from the striker at the edge of the box but Campbell latched onto the ball only to drive it across and wide of the goal.
The ‘Well midfield man made his next chance count. Possession around the visitor’s box ended with Polworth driving the ball towards goal and when it was partially blocked 10 yards out, Campbell drilled the loose ball into the corner for the winner.
However, with Bevis Mugabi immediately on to shore up the defence, it took a brilliant stop from Gillespie to deny Steve Lawson and ensure that ‘Well would hold onto all three points and third spot in the league table.