MOTHERWELL climbed out of the automatic relegation slot and into the play-off position but they could not shake the feeling afterwards that they should have done better, given that they had faced 10 men for the entire second half.
Scorers: Motherwell - MacDonald 45; Kilmarnock - Obadeyi 20
Their manager, Ian Baraclough, admitted as much afterwards. “In the second half we stopped doing things that got us into good positions in the first half, [even though] it can be perceived it’s easier against 10 men,” he said.
“It’s only easier if you move the ball quicker, and we didn’t. The first half was an excellent performance. Marvin [Johnson] was putting in cross after cross.
“He tormented the full-back [Daryl Westlake], who eventually lost his head and got booked twice.”
The home side had made all the early running and Johnson can indeed consider himself unfortunate not to have won a penalty (and even more unlucky to have been shown a yellow card for diving) when he appeared to have had the feet taken from him by Craig Samson.
Samson then denied Scott McDonald in less controversial fashion, beating away a rising drive from the Australian.
However, Kilmarnock took the lead with a classic sucker punch in the most impressive move of the match.
Manuel Pascali latched on to a loose ball on the edge of his own penalty area and brought it out of defence before supplying Nathan Eccleston wide on the right.
He swiftly worked the ball to Craig Slater who, in turn, released Tope Obadeyi and Kilmarnock’s top scorer caught George Long napping, beating him at his near post with a fierce shot from 12 yards.
Samson was the visitors’ busiest and most impressive performer, though, making fine saves to keep out a point-blank header from Conor Grant and an attempted clearance by Pascali.
Killie were undone by two rash challenges by Westlake on Johnson – in the 41st and 44th minute – which resulted in the full-back’s dismissal.
Worse was to follow when McDonald clipped the second of those free-kicks behind Samson for the first goal of his second spell at Fir Park.
Unfortunately, the second period was anti-climactic. Killie dug themselves in and Motherwell failed to breach their two banks of four as the game slowly petered out on the Somme-like surface.
“We can take positives from that display,” said McDonald. “We’re still unbeaten but we’re disappointed that we didn’t win it.
“The conditions didn’t help but maybe we didn’t spread the play quickly enough and our final ball wasn’t good enough. If we’d got a second goal it would have opened the game up.
“I was pleased with the goal but I was stinking, by my standards. I expect a lot from myself and I didn’t hold the ball up well.”
“Kilmarnock are now unbeaten in six for the first time since January, 2011 and interim manager Gary Locke is doing his prospects of obtaining the post on a permanent basis no harm at all.
“Obviously, if we’d kept 11 players on the pitch today then we could have taken all three points and that would’ve helped.
“But circumstances change during a game and I couldn’t be happier with our display. The boys were great and I was pleased with the work rate throughout the team.”
Motherwell: Long; Law, Lang, McManus, Straker; Grant (Ainsworth 55), Pearson, Lasley, Johnson (Thomas 84); Erwin (Sutton 71), McDonald. Subs: Twardzik, Carswell, O’Brien, Moore. Booked: Johnson.
Kilmarnock: Samson; Westlake, Pascali, Ashcroft, Chantler; Johnston (Barbour 46), O’Hara, Slater, Obadeyi (Cairney 79); Eccleston (Miller 85), Magennis. Subs: Brennan, Eremenko, Kiltie, Syme.
Referee: John Beaton Surname. Attendance: 4,192
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