Kevin van Veen climbed out of his sick bed to put Motherwell a step closer to Europe with victory at Ross County.
The Dutchman won and netted the decisive penalty just four minutes after entering the park in Dingwall, netting the only goal of the game to lift ‘Well into the UEFA Europa Conference League spots with two games to go.
A squad decimated with illness saw 18 travel to Dingwall, but with Slattery and Van Veen only able to start proceedings from the bench.
Academy graduate Sam Campbell – a central defender – also made his first appearance amongst the substitutes.
County started on the front foot, dominating the early proceedings and carving out the better chances.
First, Randall stung Kelly’s palms with a long-range drive that the ‘keeper did well to hold.
Shortly after, Cancola found himself completely unmarked 25 yards out from a corner, but sent his dipping effort over.
The hosts had all the possession and control until around the half-hour mark, when Motherwell started to find their feet.
The returning O’Donnell showed his international pedigree getting forward down the right and his cross to the back post was perfect for Efford, only for Randall to nick in and clear at the last.
Goss saw a 30-yard drive charged down and O’Hara had a left-footed shot go wide, while County responded with a free-flowing passing move at the other end which saw Charles-Cook fire over.
The two best chances though would fall Motherwell’s way as the half wore on.
First Efford found himself in behind on the left but saw his shot well parried wide by Laidlaw.
From the resulting corner, O’Hara sent it deep and Donnelly headed it back across goal towards the waiting crowd.
Shields rose highest between the bodies, but sent his header over the bar from 10 yards.
The second half took time to spark to life, although both sides had early chances.
Cancola again had room to shoot from distance early on, but sent his dipping shot past the post.
At the other end, Goss’ shot from 25 yards saw shouts for handball on the block in the box waved away.
Van Veen and Slattery were introduced just as County had a hat-trick of glorious chances to take the lead.
First, White was played in behind but snatched at his shot with Kelly racing out to gather.
The goalkeeper then pulled off a world-class save to tip over Spittal’s goalbound effort, shortly before White again got free but saw a shot sail over.
With 23 minutes to go and with Van Veen only just on the park, the game turned on its head.
The Dutchman was felled in the area by a lazy tackle, leaving referee David Munro clear in pointing to the spot.
Van Veen stepped up and cooly dispatched the penalty to send the large away following wild and starting to sing of going on a European tour.
The game roared on, with ‘Well sitting in and absorbing the pressure while also trying to hit on the counter.
Five minutes were found in stoppages and Kelly was again to the rescue midway through them, pulling off a miracle save unsighted to tip a goalbound effort round the post at the last second.
But it wasn’t enough for County to get back in it and Motherwell headed back down the road with three points and European dreams.