The roar that erupted on the final whistle at Fir Park said it all.
Motherwell had to dig deep and get a couple of big breaks to win this one against a typically obstinate Livingston side who must have felt pretty downcast at emerging with nothing to show for their efforts. It maintained Lanarkshire side’s toehold on third place in the Premiership and with rumours swirling that manager Stephen Robinson is on Hearts’ wanted list to take over the reins at Tynecastle it can’t but fail to draw attention to the fine start his side have made to the season
Robinson brushed aside questions on his future and focused only his satisfaction at gathering another three points when it could easily have only been one. “It was a great result, not a great game,” he observed.
“Livi make it like that at times, but I admire that. They are really difficult to break down. I said to the players you have to find a way – if you keep moving the ball they’ll eventually switch off. And that’s what happened.”
The opening 45 minutes underlined just how hard it is for many Premiership sides to get the better of this Livingston side. Yet again they were phenomenally well organised at the back and always looking to spring a lightening break. Whilst the Robinson’s men might have exerted more pressure, the visitors’ came the closest to a breakthrough. The lively Scott Tiffoney in particular was unfortunate to see a couple of net bound efforts deflected to safety.
Motherwell meanwhile just seemed to get themselves tied in knots whenever they got near the visitors goal, threatening much but delivering little apart from a rasping effort by Devante Cole that Matija Sarkic palmed away.
Within a couple of minutes after the break however all the fastidious defending by Livingston was undone by a horrible lapse in concentration by their goalkeeper. Chris Long had plenty of time to hit a powerful shot but Sarkic seemed to have it smothered – alas for him not properly and the ball rolled slowly into the net.
Typically however Gary Holt’s side reacted phlegmatically to this setback. They didn’t have to wait that long for an equaliser either as Cole clipped the ankles of Tiffoney in the box and referee Euan Anderson pointed to the spot. In a daring gambit Keaghan Jacobs was replaced by Steven Lawless, who immediately stepped up to take the penalty and lashed it high into the net.
Having been unable to build momentum after taking the lead Motherwell struggled to regain impetus after this setback, with the visitors continuing to smother the midfield. A share of the spoils seemed to be looming and wouldn’t have been undeserved for the visitors, but once again fate took a kindly twist in favour of Robinson’s men. Liam Polworth’s shot from just outside the box was well blocked but the ball fell to Allan Campbell who was in the right spot to stroke the ball in the net. It was clinical and enough to get Motherwell over the line.
“It’s a kick in the teeth and it’s something we spoke about,” reflected the disconsolate Holt. “I can’t keep coming in after games and saying we’ve been unlucky. We have to be professional and savvy to see games out and take a point.”