Motherwell were made to rue missed chances as they lost out 3-2 against Forfar Farmington on their return to SWPL1 action.
Second half goals from Ryan, Cowper and Bruce ensured defeat for the women of steel in their first match back after the prolonged break.
‘Well went into the game with interim coaches Stewart Hall and Willie Kinniburgh in the dugout, following the departure of Eddie Wolecki Black in midweek.
Motherwell had the first chance of the match. Callaghan’s low drive was well saved by Perry, after she had sprung the offside trap after a delightful through ball from Adams.
McDonald-Nguah was next to test the visiting keeper, her brilliant touch on the far side taking out two defenders and her curling effort going agonisingly over the bar from just outside the box.
Motherwell looked like a team hungry to improve on a poorer earlier start to the SWPL1 campaign and Perry was forced to make another smart stop from McDonald-Nguah soon after. Skelton’s cross was deflected into her path and her effort was straight at the keeper.
Kilcoyne nearly put the visitors ahead after a mix-up from a corner left home goalkeeper Ramsay exposed. She recovered well to eventually smother the ball after the Forfar forward looked destined to score, sending the two teams in level at the break.
The second half would see the match open up further, as both teams felt the effect of playing their first competitive match for months.
Callaghan started the second half with an early effort that just went wide, after she found space outside the box, while McDonald-Nguah was a constant menace for the Forfar backline with her craft and guile.
But the visitors opened the scoring from a well-worked corner. An inch-perfect ball gave Ryan an easy header from close range and she made no mistake finishing well.
Motherwell rallied and quickly levelled the match. After a stramash in the box, the ball was cleared out to Callaghan, who expertly shot from outside the box to make it 1-1.
Shortly after, the visitors retook the lead. Cowper’s long-range lob caught out Ramsay in goals, who could only watch on as the ball flew into the top corner.
Fraser nearly sealed the three points for the visitors when the ball deflected to her in the box, but she blasted the ball well over to the relief of the Motherwell defence.
Sinclair and McLintock replaced Callaghan and Skelton as ‘Well looked to bring fresh legs into their attacking play. Crooks was the next player to have an effort at goal, but she rushed her attempt just inside the box and the ball flew past the post.
Motherwell then missed a golden chance, McDonald-Nguah played in Sinclair after great hold-up play, but she lost her composure at the vital moment and gave Perry an easy save after a tame effort.
Forfar sealed the three points when Bruce punished a lack of concentration at the back, finding herself goalside from Watson and finishing well past Ramsey.
Motherwell then pulled one back when substitute McLintock fired home from range to ensure a nervy ending at The Penny Cars Stadium, but the visitors held out for the victory – which keeps Motherwell rooted second bottom.
‘Well now face a trip to Ainslie Park to take on Hibernian next Sunday, Kick off is at 2pm.
Motherwell: Ramsay, Connor (Swanson), C Watson, G Crooks, Adams, Slater, Inglis, McDonald-Nguah, Gardner, Callaghan (McLintock), Skelton (Sinclair).
Subs not used: Pollard, K Watson, Roberts, M Crooks.
Assistant coach Stewart Hall was happy with the performance, despite the result.
“The three goals we conceded were poor and we will work on them,” he said. “But to score two well-worked goals like we did was pleasing.
“Most importantly, our team performance was back to the levels we expect here at Motherwell.
“We came in at the break knowing we should have been ahead in the match, but that’s what happens in this division. You have to take your chances against a team like Forfar because they have bundles of experience.
“To lose two set pieces, a corner and a free kick was disappointing, but those are things we can work on. Our application was spot on.
“If we continue to play like we did today, results will come. We need to look ahead of ourselves and not behind us.”