When the dust settles on the relegation issues, the nature of this bruising, batter-the-ball-or-man encounter will already be forgotten. The value of the point earned by Ross County may not.
On the surface, this was a slip back to bottom place in the Premiership for a club that has still only won three home games all season. But County also cut the gap on tenth place in the table to three points from four at Hamilton’s expense. Those two clubs now meet at New Douglas Park next week in a televised early kick-off that will go a long way towards shaping the final outcome.
For Steven Ferguson, the County caretaker manager alongside Stuart Kettlewell, there was a natural emphasis on the positives to be drawn from another clean sheet and a third game unbeaten amid the recovery process.
“We find ourselves back at the bottom of the league, but it’s never about what other teams are doing at this stage in the season – it is what we’re doing,” Ferguson stressed. “We had to match Motherwell in the way they do things – and I felt we did that. We’ll take this point. It is in our hands – nothing changes.”
For Motherwell, it was a decent performance – and an 18th clean sheet of the season, one short of the club record – but the stalemate stretched manager Steve Robinson’s search for a win to six league games.
A deflected attempt by Allan Campbell, pictured, inside three minutes saw home goalkeeper Scott Fox react brilliantly to dive to push it away from his left-hand post. Motherwell’s Andrew Rose then fell awkwardly and soon had to be replaced by Carl McHugh, while County also had to make an early change. From an Alex Schalk corner, Frenchman Christopher Routis headed wide and came off worst after being trodden on by Cedric Kipre, before limping off to be replaced by Jason Naismith.
The Dingwall team’s best first-half chance came in stoppage time before the break. Schalk’s lay-off found striker Billy Mckay hesitating a second too long before Marcus Fraser’s strike was blocked superbly by Charles Dunne.
Two close calls within a minute in the second half had County on the rack, with Ryan Bowman’s strike brilliantly tipped past the post by home keeper Fox. From the corner, Curtis Main’s strong header whistled just wide of target.
Late tension cranked up as both sides mustered chances and Motherwell manager Robinson claimed his team deserved a win.
But the Irishman’s concerns were with injured Andy Rose ahead of next month’s Scottish Cup final. The Australian midfielder fell awkwardly in an innocuous aerial encounter before being taken off with a suspected broken collarbone. “We’re keeping our fingers crossed for him that it is maybe just bruising,” said Robinson.