A brilliant finish from Tony Watt moved Motherwell one point off fourth placed Dundee United in the Premiership, courtesy of a 1-0 win.
The Steelmen didn’t take long to get going with Watt’s sublime curled effort inside the opening 15 minutes putting Graham Alexander’s men ahead and an abundance of first half chances followed.
Rain was relentless throughout the match, only getting heavier as both sets of players battled the elements at Fir Park.
Barry Maguire was shown a second booking late on but the Fir Park side held on for a big win, responding perfectly to a 3-0 loss to Dundee.
They are now just a point outside the top four, but remain fifth.
Alexander made two changes to the side which was brushed aside with ease by United’s city rivals Dundee, Sean Goss and Kevin Van Veen in for Liam Grimshaw and Connor Shields.
Dundee United head coach Thomas Courts meanwhile adjusted forward Nicky Clark for attacking midfielder Declan Glass in the away side’s only switch from a 1-1 draw at Ross County.
Motherwell needed a response to their 3-0 humbling in Tayside and their start showed promise. Alexander had asked his side to work on their mental preparation pre-match, and their heads looked in the game.
The Steelmen missed a big chance on eight minutes. Goss’ floated free-kick met Watt in the box, but he could only head straight at goalkeeper Benjamin Siegrist.
His effort three minutes later more than made up for it. Kaiyne Woolery started a counter-attack from midfield, his pass cut out. But Watt collected and curled beautifully into the United net.
Courts’ men had barely got into ‘Well territory in the first 20 minutes with Alexander’s men dominating. Woolery had a cross cut out by United’s Charlie Mulgrew two minutes previous as ‘Well sought a second.
There was danger afoot on 32 minutes though as some loose passes at the back for Motherwell allowed Louis Appere inside, only for ‘Well’s Nathan McGinley and deny him a shot at goal.
Maguire was soon up the other end but the claret and amber midfielder’s shot was blocked on 34 minutes. Callum Slattery’s effort was even bigger two minutes later after some nice work from Van Veen but he headed wide.
United had registered one shot to Motherwell’s 11 at half-time, showing the home side’s dominance in attack.
Woolery created the first attack of the half by slipping in Van Veen, but again Dundee United committed bodies in defence to make sure the home side weren’t granted a free hit at goal on 49 minutes.
The pitch was slippery due to a heavy shower of rain, making the ball zip about even more so than it already was doing in the first half.
Van Veen should have scored on 54 minutes after more great work from winger Woolery, but he spun in the box and blasted wide. Motherwell had to make sure they couldn’t be punished for missed chances.
They would be dealt a blow on 58 minutes though when key centre-back Sondre Solholm Johansen pulled up and was subbed off with a muscle injury.
Kieran Freeman’s Tangerine cross would cause Motherwell problems on 62 minutes as United slowly started creeping into the game with menacing crosses.
Dutchman Van Veen had been pestering the away defence all night and was left wishing for another attempt at his 71st minute effort, flashing wide from just outside the six-yard box.
A nervy final 10 minutes commenced as Motherwell still remained with just the one goal lead. It got even nervier when Maguire was shown a second booking for a cheap foul on Ian Harkes on 81 minutes.
Defensive subs were made as Alexander manned the barricades and got the win.
Motherwell XI: Kelly, Mugabi, Johansen (O’Donnell, 58), Lamie, McGinley, Maguire, Slattery, Goss, Woolery, Van Veen (Carroll, Van Veen) Watt.
Subs: Fox, O’Donnell, Carroll, Cornelius, Grimshaw, Roberts, Shields.
Booked: Maguire (red card), Goss, McGinley
Dundee United XI: Siegrist, Freeman, Edwards, Mulgrew, McMann, Glass (Clark, 43), Harkes, Hoti, Pawlett, Niskanen (Watson, 58) Appere.
Subs: Carson, Sporle, Chalmers, Clark, Smith, Watson, Meekison.
Referee: Steven MacLean
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