Motherwell fought back from 3-1 down with only eight minutes remaining to grab two late goals and share the points with Ross County after an action packed second half.
After the disappointment of the late, late loss to Celtic, ‘Well fans would see this as a hard earned point as the Fir Park men refused to give up the cause.
It was a pretty even affair until Eamonn Brophy fired County into a lead just beyond the hour mark. When Simon Murray made it 2-0 the game looked beyond the Steelmen.
But the introduction of Mika Biereth after 74 minutes brought some much needed urgency life into the home side. After the young Dane had won and converted a penalty a fightback looked possible until Victor Loturi restored the Staggies two goal advantage.
With three minutes of regulation time remaining Conor Wilkinson hammered the ball home to give the Fir Park men some renewed hope.
And amazingly three minutes into added on time, 17-year-old substitute Luca Ross scrambled the ball over the visitor’s goal line for an equaliser for a point that seemed beyond them.
The suspension of midfielder Lennon Miller allowed Stuart Kettlewell to tinker with his formation going with two up front. That allowed ex-County man Oli Shaw to make his first start, partnering Theo Bair as ‘Well lined up determined to put four consecutive defeats behind them.
The Fir Park boss was also boosted by the return from injury of Calum Butcher and Mika Biereth, who were fit enough for a place on the home bench.
While Motherwell’s formation was intent on exerting pressure on the visitor’s defence, it was Liam Kelly’s goal which came under threat from the kick-off.
In the 7th minute Connor Randell’s ball across the six-yard box just eluded Eamonn Brophy sliding in to force the ball home.
A minute later the ‘Well defence was guilty of ball watching when the unmarked Jack Baldwin nodded the ball back across goal only to watch his defensive partner Ryan Leak head the ball wide.
Then as the ball bounced around the hoe box Baldwin’s shot at goal was deflected just wide of the post for a corner as a shaky looking home defence survived.
Having weathered the early storm, the Steelmen finally found their passing game, especially around the County penalty area as a flurry of crosses flashed across Ross Laidlaw’s goal.
Stephen O’Donnell started the trend with a ball aimed for Shaw and Brodie Spencer with neither able to reach the cross.
After 26 minutes O’Donnell repeated the move and this time Spencer at the rear of the six-yard box got his head to the ball only to see his effort come crashing back off the face of the post.
Two minutes later VAR made its first call of the afternoon after Blair Spittal was sent tumbling at the edge of the County box. But VAR said no penalty.
Nine minutes later O’Donnell’s last gasp tackle on Brophy was reviewed but again the outcome was no penalty.
‘Well finished the first half on top and as more inviting balls were fired across the visitor’s box.
And two minutes from the break, following Callum Slattery’s corner, Laidlaw’s goal somehow survived a melee inside the six-yard box and claims for a handball, as the sides headed for the interval on level terms.
Remarkably, it took County’s substitute Kyle Turner to force the first save of the match, his low drive after 53 minutes giving Kelly a routine catch.
On the hour mark Kettlewell made his first change of the afternoon, Conor Wilkinson replacing Bair as ‘Well searched for the opener.
It took an unorthodox save from Kelly to prevent County stealing the lead. Turner hammered the ball towards goal and when it deflected off Brophy it caught the ‘keeper grounded but somehow he used his legs to smother the ball.
Malky Mackay’s men were not to be denied, though, and four minutes later Brophy’s firm drive from the right of the box sailed past the Kelly’s outstretched hand and inside the ‘keeper’s right hand post. Even a VAR check for handball in the build up couldn’t deny the Highlander’s the lead.
Motherwell’s task was doubled after 73 minutes when the fell two behind. Murray collected the ball at the corner of the box and after stepping inside O’Donnell he fired a low shot across Kelly and into the corner of the net.
The ‘Well boss immediately made a double substitution, replacing his wing backs with Georgie Gent and Biereth.
Obviously Kettlewell was looking for the returning Arsenal loanee to repeat the impact he had against Hibs in August.
And within four minutes the young Dane had the Fir Park fans on their feet as he raced into the box, forcing Laidlaw to bring him down in the box for a stonewall penalty. Biereth wasted no time in getting to his feet and sending the County ‘keeper the wrong and set up a grandstand finish.
Any thoughts of a dramatic fightback were killed off seven minutes from time. Loturi held off Gent to get his shot on goal and although Kelly did well to block the first attempt the County midfield man followed up to squeeze the ball past the grounded ‘keeper and make it 3-1 and seemingly ensure that all three points were heading to the Highlands.
However, a battling Motherwell had other ideas.
With three minutes remaining Biereth sent Conor Wilkinson through the middle and he slammed the ball past Laidlaw to give ‘Well a fighting chance of salvaging something from the game.
Three minutes into the seven added on, Luca Ross scored his first senior goal when amidst a scramble in the six-yard box the 17 year old steered the ball over the line for a dramatic equaliser.
Not content with a point ‘Well pressed for all three and in the final minute a chance for the winner appeared. Gent’s high cross into the box had Laidlaw dropping the ball under the threat of Wilkinson. But as McGinn fired the ball towards goal it was blocked by Leak, as both sides settled for a deserved point apiece for their efforts and entertainment.