Superior finishing by Motherwell lifted them into third place in the Scottish Premiership as Kilmarnock continued their league struggle.

Home striker Kris Boyd spurned a decent chance in either half as he waited too long to shoot then headed over from close range.

His team-mate in goal, Craig Samson, tipped over a header by John Sutton.

But he was powerless to stop Sutton's diving header in 55 minutes or Henri Anier's composed finish late on.

Seven places and 13 points separated the lowly hosts and Motherwell, but Killie knew if they could better Ross County's result at Hearts, they would at least move up a place.

That would surely have gone down as progress for manager Allan Johnston, who is searching for a consistent, pleasing level of performance.

In Manuel Pascali and Stephen McManus both teams had straight-backed, resolute central defenders but it was the former who threatened in the opposition half early on.

The popular Italian aimed a firm header from 14 yards that Gunnar Nielsen in the 'Well goal had to be lively to catch.

John Sutton celebrates after scoring for Motherwell against Kilmarnock

Striker Sutton broke the deadlock with a header 10 minutes in the second half

But the visitors were gifted a chance when Northern Irish midfielder Sammy Clingan dithered on the ball and allowed Craig Moore to nip in on the edge of the box only to fire wide.

And Moore wasted two further chances as Kilmarnock struggled to clear their lines.

Clingan was involved in the play far more than his fellow midfielder Barry Nicholson and had the home fans applauding his effort from a free-kick that floated a fraction over.

Killie's attacking midfielder Chris Johnston set up the best chance of the first half for Boyd with an incisive pass down the inside-left channel. The striker shrugged off one challenge but tried to set himself too perfectly instead of shooting and the opportunity was gone.

That preceded a superb save by Samson. Fraser Kerr swung a perfect cross into the box and Sutton powered a goalbound header from 10 yards, which the Killie number one managed to tip over.

But parity lasted only 10 minutes after the restart. Iain Vigurs crossed low and Sutton seemed the only player with the desire to go for it as he dived headlong to nod home.

Kilmarnock come close to levelling immediately as Johnston snaked through the Motherwell defence and passed to Boyd, who set up Michael Gardyne.

His firm shot was parried by Gunnar Nielsen and there were no takers as Jeroen Tesselaar blasted a low ball across the face of goal on the rebound.

Clingan twice tried his luck from range with either foot before Gardyne lofted a beautiful cross for Boyd who, to Gardyne's disbelief, headed over from six yards.

Pascali's close-range header was gratefully grasped by the well-positioned Nielsen and it was clear by that stage that the next goal would be decisive.

That it should come for Motherwell upset the home fans who booed their team at the final whistle.

Anier, a replacement for Moore, took possession of the ball on the edge of the box, surged forward and made sure of the points with a cool, left-foot finish.

Consistency remains elusive for an increasingly embattled Johnston in the Killie dugout.

Lineup, Bookings (4) & Substitutions (5)

Kilmarnock

  • 01 Samson
  • 16 Clohessy
  • 02 Tesselaar
  • 08 Clingan (Winchester - 86' )
  • 29 Pascali Booked
  • 26 O'Hara
  • 07 Nicholson (McKenzie - 72' )
  • 10 Johnston
  • 25 Gardyne Booked (Gros - 82' )
  • 09 Boyd
  • 28 Slater

Substitutes

  • 11 Gros
  • 12 Reguero
  • 18 McKenzie
  • 19 Ibrahim
  • 20 Jacobs
  • 21 Winchester
  • 30 Ashcroft

Motherwell

  • 12 Nielsen
  • 20 Kerr
  • 17 Francis-Angol
  • 14 Lasley
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 06 McManus
  • 07 McFadden (Ainsworth - 45' )
  • 08 Lawson Booked
  • 09 Sutton
  • 22 Moore (Anier - 79' )
  • 11 Vigurs Booked

Substitutes

  • 03 Hammell
  • 15 Cummins
  • 16 McHugh
  • 18 Carswell
  • 21 Stewart
  • 24 Anier
  • 25 Ainsworth
Ref: Stephen Finnie
Att: 3,704

Match Stats

Shots

14 11

On target

6 3

Corners

5 6

Fouls

12 10

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 2.

90:00 +3:05 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 2.

89:03

Attempt missed. Craig Slater (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the right.

87:38 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 2. Henri Anier (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Iain Vigurs.

86:42

Foul by William Gros (Kilmarnock).

86:42

Fraser Kerr (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

86:15

Mark O'Hara (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

86:15

Foul by Henri Anier (Motherwell).

85:59 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. Jude Winchester replaces Sammy Clingan.

84:00

Henri Anier (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

83:59

Foul by Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock).

83:12

Attempt saved. William Gros (Kilmarnock) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

81:41 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. William Gros replaces Michael Gardyne.

80:50

Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

79:46 Booking

Booking Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.

79:33

Foul by Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock).

79:33

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

79:03

Attempt blocked. Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

78:31 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Henri Anier replaces Craig Moore.

78:03 Booking

Booking Paul Lawson (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

78:00

Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

77:56

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

76:52

Attempt saved. Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

76:25

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Zaine Francis-Angol.

75:55

Mark O'Hara (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

75:55

Foul by Craig Moore (Motherwell).

75:14

Attempt missed. Rory McKenzie (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

73:38

Foul by Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock).

73:38

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

71:39 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Kilmarnock. Rory McKenzie replaces Barry Nicholson.

68:46

Attempt missed. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) right footed shot from a difficult angle and long range on the right is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

68:04 Booking

Booking Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) is shown the yellow card.

68:00

Craig Moore (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

67:53

Foul by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

67:06

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Craig Slater.

66:05

Attempt missed. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) header from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

64:33

Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

64:33

Foul by Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell).

63:58

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

63:39

Attempt missed. Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses to the right.

60:28

Attempt missed. Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) header from very close range is close, but misses to the right.

60:02

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Craig Samson.

56:00

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Lionel Ainsworth.

55:40

Attempt saved. Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the bottom left corner.

54:08 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 1. John Sutton (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner.

52:57

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Fraser Kerr.

49:36

Attempt missed. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) left footed shot from the right side of the box is close, but misses to the left.

48:49

Attempt saved. Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal.

45:00

Second Half begins Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 0.

45:00 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Lionel Ainsworth replaces James McFadden.

45:00 +0:20 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Kilmarnock 0, Motherwell 0.

43:19

Attempt missed. Craig Slater (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high.

42:48

Corner, Kilmarnock. Conceded by Fraser Kerr.

42:30

Attempt saved. Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from a difficult angle on the left is saved in the top centre of the goal.

41:16

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Manuel Pascali.

41:09

Attempt blocked. Craig Moore (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

37:07

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Craig Samson.

36:49

Attempt saved. John Sutton (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top left corner.

35:25

Foul by Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock).

35:25

Craig Moore (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

32:48

Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the right wing.

32:48

Foul by James McFadden (Motherwell).

32:20

Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

32:20

Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).

31:46

Attempt missed. Jeroen Tesselaar (Kilmarnock) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

30:31

Foul by Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock).

30:31

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

29:53

Chris Johnston (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick on the left wing.

29:53

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

25:35

Foul by Sean Clohessy (Kilmarnock).

25:35

Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

24:52

Attempt missed. Sammy Clingan (Kilmarnock) right footed shot from outside the box is just a bit too high from a direct free kick.

24:13

Craig Slater (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

24:13

Foul by Paul Lawson (Motherwell).

22:12

Attempt missed. Craig Moore (Motherwell) left footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses to the right.

18:37

Foul by Kris Boyd (Kilmarnock).

18:37

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

17:41

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Craig Slater.

16:30

Foul by Craig Slater (Kilmarnock).

16:30

Keith Lasley (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

15:47

Attempt missed. Craig Moore (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

13:12

Foul by Michael Gardyne (Kilmarnock).

13:12

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

10:17

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Sean Clohessy.

9:41

Foul by Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock).

9:41

Craig Moore (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

5:37

Attempt missed. Craig Moore (Motherwell) right footed shot from the left side of the box is close, but misses the top right corner.

4:04

Attempt saved. Manuel Pascali (Kilmarnock) header from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

3:24 Booking

Booking Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

3:15

Barry Nicholson (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

3:15

Foul by Iain Vigurs (Motherwell).

2:35

Craig Slater (Kilmarnock) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

2:35

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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