Chris Humphrey inspired Motherwell to a ruthless victory over Ross County which ended the Dingwall side's hopes of Europa League football next season.

James McFadden converted Humphrey's centre early on but a Richard Brittain strike almost had County level.

The pacey Humphrey broke from his own half to net a second before half-time.

A nasty looking knee injury to County's Brittain preceded McFadden's wayward header from close-range, before Ivan Sproule hit the crossbar.

Second place in the Scottish Premier League was already secure for Motherwell and this was potentially a final home game in claret and amber for the likes of McFadden, Randolph, Michael Higdon and Nicky Law; but none of that led to the hosts taking their foot off the gas.

Ross County needed a point at Fir Park to stay in the mix for a third-place SPL finish and set up a tasty Highland derby next week, but despite showing plenty of forward threat, were picked off by two swift counter attacks.

Motherwell's Humphrey had barely touched the ball during impressive passing from County in the opening seven minutes, but his first contribution to the match was explosive.

The winger dispossessed Iain Vigurs and darted down the right, passing Grant Munro with ease before squaring for McFadden to side-foot the ball calmly back across visiting goalkeeper Michael Fraser.

Richard Brittain

Ross County's Richard Brittain appeared to twist his knee in the second half

Ross County quickly looked for the equaliser they required to keep European ambitions alive.

German forward Steffen Wohlfarth had a close-range effort well blocked and captain Brittain worked a tidy one-two with Vigurs before thumping a low left-footer just wide from 20 yards.

Then the quality of a Brittain free-kick did not match the fine play between him and Martin Scott that won it.

A loose Motherwell pass in midfield allowed Vigurs to send Sproule scurrying through on goal but his heavy first touch after out-pacing Stevie Hammell rolled into the arms of the onrushing Darren Randolph.

But with the Dingwall side on the front foot, another counter-attacking master-class by Humphrey doubled Motherwell's lead.

Again, Vigurs was guilty of mis-controlling after a clearance from County's corner kick fell to him, and again Humphrey exploited it; speeding from deep inside his own half to eventually stroke the ball in at Fraser's near-post from 10 yards.

County's belief remained and after the break Scott and Sproule kept Randolph on his toes.

Another attacking foray from Humphrey caused damage in a different way when Brittain appeared to twist his knee badly when attempting to block the former Shrewsbury player's shot.

The concern shown by both sets of players highlighted the seriousness of the midfielder's injury.

Brittain's replacement Mark Fotheringham was next to threaten the Motherwell goal when Vigur's pass teed him up.

McFadden should have made it three from Humphrey's deep cross but headed over from a few yards.

And County, who were doing everything apart from hitting the back of the net, were frustrated once more at the sight of Sproule's angled shot skimming the crossbar.

Randolph, who is destined for a move to England in the summer, was substituted in injury time to receive a standing ovation from the Fir Park crowd.

Lineup, Bookings (2) & Substitutions (6)

Motherwell

  • 01 Randolph (Stewart - 90' )
  • 03 Hammell
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 15 Ramsden
  • 04 Law (Higginbotham - 79' )
  • 06 Hateley
  • 07 Humphrey
  • 14 Lasley
  • 18 Carswell
  • 09 Higdon (McHugh - 79' )
  • 20 McFadden

Substitutes

  • 43 Stewart
  • 19 Kerr
  • 26 Francis-Angol
  • 30 Cummins
  • 17 Daley
  • 11 Higginbotham
  • 16 McHugh

Ross County

  • 01 Fraser
  • 04 Munro
  • 13 Hainault
  • 18 Ikonomou
  • 22 Kovacevic
  • 08 Lawson (Cooper - 74' )
  • 10 Brittain Booked (Fotheringham - 56' Booked )
  • 11 Vigurs
  • 14 Scott (Glen - 65' )
  • 16 Sproule
  • 15 Wohlfarth

Substitutes

  • 19 Gallacher
  • 05 Boyd
  • 21 Cooper
  • 24 Ross
  • 29 Fotheringham
  • 20 Glen
  • 27 Porritt
Ref: Craig Thomson
Att: 7,734

Match Stats

Shots

5 9

On target

2 2

Corners

2 6

Fouls

4 7

Live Text Commentary

90:00 +5:02 Full time

Full Time The referee blows for the end of the match.

90:00 +2:42 Substitution

Substitution Darren Randolph goes off and Ross Stewart comes on.

89:24 Booking

Booking The referee books Mark Fotheringham for dissent.

89:00

Iain Vigurs gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Tom Hateley. Keith Lasley takes the free kick.

86:34

Outswinging corner taken by Mark Fotheringham.

82:04

Corner taken left-footed by Iain Vigurs from the right by-line, clearance by Shaun Hutchinson.

80:59

Unfair challenge on Iain Vigurs by Stewart Carswell results in a free kick. Mark Fotheringham has a direct shot on goal from the free kick.

78:32 Substitution

Substitution Kallum Higginbotham replaces Nicky Law.

78:32 Substitution

Substitution Michael Higdon leaves the field to be replaced by Robert McHugh.

76:04

James McFadden has a headed effort from close in and clears the bar.

73:20

Stevie Hammell restarts play with the free kick.

73:20 Substitution

Substitution Paul Lawson goes off and Alex Cooper comes on.

73:20

Mihael Kovacevic gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on James McFadden.

72:13

Paul Lawson takes a inswinging corner from the left by-line played to the near post, Shaun Hutchinson makes a clearance.

67:25

Inswinging corner taken from the right by-line by Iain Vigurs, Grant Munro has a headed effort at goal from close in which goes wide left of the target.

65:52

Shot from just outside the penalty area by Mark Fotheringham misses to the left of the target.

64:34

Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.

64:34 Substitution

Substitution Gary Glen on for Martin Scott.

64:34

The offside flag is raised against Martin Scott.

61:18

Effort on goal by Mihael Kovacevic from deep inside the penalty area misses to the right of the target.

56:59

Effort from outside the box by James McFadden goes wide right of the target.

55:03 Substitution

Substitution Richard Brittain goes off and Mark Fotheringham comes on.

51:16

Corner taken by Stevie Hammell from the right by-line, Martin Scott makes a clearance.

49:23

Unfair challenge on Martin Scott by Stewart Carswell results in a free kick. Richard Brittain takes the direct free kick.

47:25

Evangelos Ikonomou takes a shot. Save by Darren Randolph.

46:14

Effort from inside the area by Martin Scott misses to the left of the goal.

45:01

The referee gets the second half underway.

45:00 +1:03 Half time

Half Time The whistle is blown to end the first half.

44:47

Simon Ramsden provided the assist for the goal.

44:47 Goal scored

Goal! - Chris Humphrey - Motherwell 2 - 0 Ross Co Chris Humphrey finds the back of the net with a goal from close in to the bottom right corner of the goal. Motherwell 2-0 Ross County.

44:14

Corner taken short by Paul Lawson.

43:02

James McFadden challenges Grant Munro unfairly and gives away a free kick. Direct free kick taken by Paul Lawson.

38:45

Unfair challenge on Stevie Hammell by Iain Vigurs results in a free kick. The free kick is swung in right-footed by Tom Hateley, Martin Scott makes a clearance.

37:57

The ball is sent over by Chris Humphrey.

37:10

The official flags Martin Scott offside. Darren Randolph takes the indirect free kick.

35:43

Michael Higdon fouled by Andre Hainault, the ref awards a free kick. Stevie Hammell restarts play with the free kick.

33:15

Grant Munro takes a shot.

32:07

Inswinging corner taken by Stewart Carswell from the left by-line, clearance by Evangelos Ikonomou.

29:58

Iain Vigurs takes a inswinging corner from the right by-line to the near post, clearance made by Nicky Law.

29:53

Ivan Sproule crosses the ball, Stevie Hammell gets a block in.

25:10

Unfair challenge on Martin Scott by Simon Ramsden results in a free kick. Richard Brittain has an effort direct from the free kick.

21:56

Direct effort from the free kick comes in from Tom Hateley.

21:56 Booking

Booking Richard Brittain is cautioned by the ref for unsporting behaviour.

21:43

Richard Brittain gives away a free kick for an unfair challenge on Stewart Carswell.

15:31

Andre Hainault concedes a free kick for a foul on Michael Higdon. Simon Ramsden takes the direct free kick.

15:06

Richard Brittain produces a left-footed shot from 35 yards and missed to the left of the net.

7:57

Assist on the goal came from Chris Humphrey.

7:57 Goal scored

Goal! - James McFadden - Motherwell 1 - 0 Ross Co Goal scored by James McFadden from inside the penalty box to the bottom right corner of the goal. Motherwell 1-0 Ross County.

3:59

Free kick awarded for an unfair challenge on Stewart Carswell by Martin Scott. Shaun Hutchinson takes the free kick.

1:30

Martin Scott delivers the ball.

0:00

The referee starts the match.

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