Grind for Motherwell but Steelmen are building momentum after defeating Ross County

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander praised his players for grinding out a 2-1 victory over Ross County.

Tony Watt celebrates after scoring to make it 2-1 Motherwell during a cinch Premiership match against Ross County at Fir Park.

Tony Watt's 80th-minute winner sent the Steelmen into the top three of the cinch Premiership, two points behind leaders Rangers.

The home side took the lead inside two minutes through Callum Slattery's 25-yard strike but County soon grew into the game and levelled when Regan Charles-Cook's cross nestled in the far corner.

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Both sides hit the crossbar after the interval - through Watt and County substitute Joseph Hungbo - but the visitors had the bulk of the opportunities.

However, Well took all three points after Watt latched onto Ricki Lamie's diagonal ball and fired home.

"It was a winning performance," Alexander said. "That's the first marker we have to understand - winning games and getting good results, which it certainly was.

"I thought we started brilliantly and scored a great goal and played with real intensity. Ross County grew into the game and deservedly got an equaliser.

"We had to grind it out in the second half and I don't think it was a champagne performance from us.

"But we showed enough quality at both ends of the pitch to not concede and score the deciding goal."

Watt netted his fifth goal of the campaign after responding to advice from Alexander when he found himself out of the team early in the season.

"I am always honest with a player and give them the reason why they are not in the team so they can work on it and get back in the team, and he has done that," Alexander said.

"He is hitting the target a lot more in training and has a real intent to score goals in training, and it's coming through in games."

County are still without a win but there was more encouragement for Malky Mackay as they just missed out on a fourth draw amid a particularly difficult start to the season.

"We probably gave our best performance of the season," the County manager said. "I believe it was 55 per cent possession and 16 shots to eight away from home against a team sitting near the top of the league. So I have got to be happy with the way we played.

"I realise you've got to turn those chances into goals but we are creating more chances than we have created for a while at this club, and that's going back to last year as well. If we keep playing the way we are then we will be okay.

"We knew how Motherwell would play. You have to stand up to the challenge and win your first and second balls against them, because they have got a way of playing and they have some big men and they make it difficult for you.

"You have to defend properly and then get it down and find areas where you can expose them, and we did that regularly."