Having insisted beforehand they would have settled for any kind of victory, Dundee ultimately cared little that their elusive first home league win of the season was tinged with more than an element of controversy.
Paul Hartley’s side, in ending their Dens Park hoodoo, also moved off the foot off the Premiership as they celebrated consecutive wins for the first time since April after defeating Hamilton the previous weekend.
Cammy Kerr, their 21-year-old defender, opened the scoring in 39 minutes and Marcus Haber, the Canadian international striker, sealed matters with a simple tap-in towards the end for his first goal since joining the club recently until the end of the season.
But it could have been quite different had Mark McGhee’s Motherwell not been denied a goal in 20 minutes when it was clear David Mitchell, the home keeper, had crossed his own goal-line in carrying Scott McDonald’s skewed cross into the net.
“I thought that’s the best we’ve been in terms of a team performance this season,” said Hartley. “We maybe got a little bit of luck but overall I felt we were the better team. All we asked from the players was a response in the last couple of games.
“We’ve had to mix it in the last two games but we showed we can play as well. I think the two front players – Marcus Haber and Craig Wighton – made a big difference.
“It’s been difficult for us here having not won at home up until now. I said that to the players today – can you get that monkey off the back?
“Thankfully, we’ve done that and what a difference a couple of wins can make because we all feel better about ourselves.”
The hosts began brightly and created the first real opportunity in eight minutes.
Craig Wighton showed quick feet to set up Kerr and the youngster’s angled shot wasn’t all that far away from Craig Samson’s goal.
Motherwell replied when Steven Hammell fed McDonald who neatly side-stepped Tom Hateley, the former Motherwell midfielder, but couldn’t keep his wind-assisted shot down as it sailed high over Mitchell’s bar.
Things really did erupt, though, shortly after. McDonald’s cross seemed to be taken over the line by Mitchell but referee John Beaton saw nothing untoward and neither did any of his assisting officials.
McGhee, along with the rest of the visiting bench, were infuriated with the decision and six minutes before half-time they were even more livid.
Kerr, with a trademark thrusting run, seized possession around the halfway line and released Wighton overlapping on the right. Wighton’s shot was parried by Samson but Kerr had carried on into the box and made it 1-0 from the rebound.
Dundee started the second-half with the clear intention of increasing their lead. Wighton, in 49 minutes, watched his shot from 20 yards fly just over the bar. Then, two minutes later, Haber’s header from Hateley’s deep cross was saved by Samson.
Midway through the second-half, Kevin Holt exchanged passes with substitute Danny Williams, before shooting just inches wide as the hosts maintained their pressure.
However, they were able to rest a little when Haber made it 2-0 in 79 minutes, prodding home after some marvellous footwork from Wighton.
“The goal that wasn’t given was clearly a goal,” said McGhee. “At the time, I thought that and having looked at it on camera it’s a goal. It didn’t cause us to lose but it caused us not to win. We could have gone on to win the game but it wasn’t given.
“I was disappointed we then went on to concede a goal and in the second half they just turned us round and we found it very difficult to get out.
“I don’t understand why the linesman can’t help the referee. There’s two of them and they still can’t see it.”