Motherwell 1 - 2 Ross County: Brian Graham at the double

Motherwell, who reached both major cup finals last season, fell at the first hurdle here and were jeered from the field at full-time after being comprehensively beaten by the Championship leaders.

Brian Graham, left, celebrates after opening the scoring for Ross County: Picture: SNS.
Brian Graham, left, celebrates after opening the scoring for Ross County: Picture: SNS.

Manager Stephen Robinson was disconsolate afterwards and said: “We’re trying to do things a little bit differently and have brought players in that will, hopefully, help to implement that. But you could have Ronaldo and Messi up front and if the service into them isn’t good enough and people don’t take responsibility to get on the ball then it’s difficult.”

After a dire first half, County’s Jamie Lindsay seized the initiative immediately after the restart, bursting through a static home defence only to be denied by goalkeeper Mark Gillespie, who saved bravely at the midfielder’s feet.

Gillespie then dived to his left to turn behind a side-footed shot from Declan McManus.

County deservedly took the lead when Brian Graham’s downwards header from MacManus’s cross left Gillespie helpless.

Motherwell had replaced on-loan striker Ross McCormack with Curtis Main at half-time but he offered little more in the way of a threat.

Referee Steven McLean then infuriated the locals by ignoring a clear body check on Gboly Ariyibi during the build-up to County’s second, a low cross from McManus which Graham drilled home.

Graham then struck the crossbar with a rising drive and Gillespie got down well to deny McManus.

Motherwell substitute Jake Hastie headed home a cross from Elliott Frear in the final minute but it was too little, too late.

“We showed what we were all about today,” said County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell.