The relief at full-time was tangible, from both players and fans, but the win was merited and manager Stephen Robinson can finally begin his planning for the next campaign.
Motherwell wasted no time in going ahead. They won a corner straight from kick-off and Carl McHugh headed firmly behind Jamie MacDonald. It was the perfect start for the Steelmen but they then gift ed the visitors an equaliser.
Jordan Jones’ cutback ought to have been cleared by Keith Lasley but he took his eye off the ball and failed to make contact, allowing Adam Frizzell to place it beyond the outstretched left hand of Russell Griffiths.
Kilmarnock, whose safety was already assured, were able to play with freedom, but Louis Moult squandered a glorious opportunity to regain the lead for the home side on the half hour when he shot straight at MacDonald after latching on to a clearance from Griffiths while, at the other end, the goalkeeper spread himself to deny Jordan Jones.
A surging run from Jones ended with Griffiths deflecting a netbound shot from the winger to safety, while Greg Taylor saw an intended cross come back off the crossbar.
Motherwell’s Craig Clay received a yellow card for diving in an attempt to win a penalty, but, while his decision was correct in that instance, referee Nick Walsh got it horribly wrong when Motherwell scored their second. Taylor’s challenge on Elliott Frear was legitimate and ought to have resulted in a corner. Instead, the official adjudged the full-back to have fouled the winger, compounding his error by booking the player and substitute Lionel Ainsworth then scored from the free-kick.
Fortunately, there was no dubiety about the goal which secured the three points. Ainsworth astutely intercepted a pass intended for Rory McKenzie and sent Moult clear on the left. With Kilmarnock’s players caught in the opposition half, the striker switched the ball inside for the unmarked Frear to round MacDonald and sidefoot home.