Late headers from John Sutton and Stephen McManus earned a thrilling win for Motherwell against a Kallum Higginbotham-inspired Partick Thistle.

Higginbotham set up Chris Erskine for the opening goal and later converted a penalty and shot the visitors ahead with a sublime finish.

Keith Lasley levelled for 'Well before the break and Lionel Ainsworth cracked the home side into a 2-1 lead.

And, having slipped behind again, the home side rallied in a rousing finale.

Entering the 85th minute Motherwell were staring at defeat and their first dropped points against a team from the bottom half of the Premiership.

It was far from their best performance but Sutton and McManus embodied the sheer determination running through Stuart McCall's side, who remain within one point of second place, with a game in hand over Aberdeen.

Thistle, who stay in the relegation play-off spot, must have thought they were on course for a fifth league win of the season after Higginbotham had dragged them in front almost single-handedly but the visitors now find the gap to bottom team Hearts reduced to 16 points.

The Fir Park pitch was a bit worse for wear in patches after the heavy overnight rain that led to a lunchtime pitch inspection but Motherwell were moving the ball around confidently, if a little slowly, as Iain Vigurs swiped an early shot too high.

Zaine Francis-Angol was prominent throughout and good work from the left-back set up a shooting chance for James McFadden, which was blocked, with Lasley's deflected strike on the follow-up rippling against the side-netting.

The last time these teams met, Motherwell tore Thistle apart with a series of swift counter-attacks to score five, aided and abetted by some woeful defending.

Alan Archibald's men were understandably more cautious in the first half, packing men behind the ball.

It was therefore something of a surprise when the Jags went ahead thanks to a bustling run from Higginbotham.

The ball broke kindly for Erskine to tuck away despite keeper Gunnar Nielsen getting hands on the shot.

Shortly after, another enterprising break from Higginbotham teed up Prince Buaben only for Shaun Hutchinson to make a vital block.

Stung from their previous lethargy, Motherwell were level just before the interval when a Lasley strike looped off Higginbotham and spun into the far corner.

The Steelmen were much brighter in the opening minutes of the second half and the home fans were soon celebrating another goal as Ainsworth slammed in a precise shot after good work from McFadden.

Partick Thistle players celebrating

Higginbotham (far right) led Thistle's second-half revival but ultimately ended on the losing side

There were loud Thistle protests when an Aaron Taylor-Sinclair shot appeared to strike the arm of Stevie Hammell and a Buaben effort nearly squirmed under Nielsen at the home keeper's near post.

The visitors kept coming and Ainsworth's afternoon took a turn for the worse when he upended Taylor-Sinclair, with Higginbotham hammering the resultant spot-kick down the middle against his former club.

Higginbotham was suddenly unstoppable and drew a fine low save from Nielsen before driving into the box to set up Lyle Taylor, who was crowded out after taking an unnecessary touch.

The midfielder then decided to go it alone and finished off another direct run by planting a wonderful shot into the far corner of the net.

McFadden's deflected shot on the turn squeezed wide and Hutchinson's volley was tipped over by Paul Gallacher as Motherwell responded to going behind.

The late drama began in earnest when Sutton powered in a header from Ainsworth's delivery.

And three of the Fir Park stands erupted in joy as defender McManus joined the cavalry going forward and was in the right place to nod in a deep cross from Hammell.

Lineup, Bookings (5) & Substitutions (5)

Motherwell

  • 12 Nielsen
  • 18 Carswell Booked
  • 03 Hammell
  • 14 Lasley Booked
  • 05 Hutchinson
  • 06 McManus
  • 17 Francis-Angol
  • 11 Vigurs (Anier - 77' )
  • 07 McFadden
  • 09 Sutton
  • 25 Ainsworth Booked (Lawson - 90' )

Substitutes

  • 08 Lawson
  • 21 Stewart
  • 23 Murray
  • 24 Anier
  • 26 Leitch
  • 29 Shirkie
  • 30 Thomas

Partick Thistle

  • 12 Gallacher
  • 16 McMillan
  • 03 Taylor-Sinclair
  • 08 Bannigan Booked
  • 15 Mair
  • 06 Balatoni Booked
  • 28 Erskine (Elliott - 81' )
  • 10 Buaben
  • 21 Taylor (Doolan - 78' )
  • 23 Higginbotham (Craigen - 84' )
  • 22 Fraser

Substitutes

  • 01 Fox
  • 02 O'Donnell
  • 05 Muirhead
  • 07 Craigen
  • 09 Doolan
  • 11 Lawless
  • 14 Elliott
Ref: Stephen Finnie
Att: 5,048

Match Stats

Shots

14 12

On target

5 5

Corners

7 5

Fouls

12 10

Live Text Commentary

Full time

Full Time Match ends, Motherwell 4, Partick Thistle 3.

90:00 +3:09 Full time

Full Time Second Half ends, Motherwell 4, Partick Thistle 3.

90:00 +2:32

Attempt missed. Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle) header from the centre of the box is too high.

90:00 +2:16 Booking

Booking Keith Lasley (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

90:00 +2:00

Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +1:59

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

90:00 +0:34

James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

90:00 +0:34

Foul by Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle).

89:07 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Paul Lawson replaces Lionel Ainsworth.

87:25 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 4, Partick Thistle 3. Stephen McManus (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Steven Hammell with a cross.

86:50

John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

86:50

Foul by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle).

84:28 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 3, Partick Thistle 3. John Sutton (Motherwell) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lionel Ainsworth.

83:05 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Partick Thistle. James Craigen replaces Kallum Higginbotham.

81:54 Booking

Booking Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle) is shown the yellow card.

81:47

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

81:47

Foul by Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle).

80:15 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Partick Thistle. Christie Elliott replaces Chris Erskine.

77:03 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Partick Thistle. Kris Doolan replaces Lyle Taylor.

76:48 Substitution

Substitution Substitution, Motherwell. Henri Anier replaces Iain Vigurs.

75:02

Attempt missed. Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box is too high.

74:06

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.

73:57

Attempt blocked. Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the six yard box is blocked.

73:39

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Paul Gallacher.

73:31

Attempt saved. Stephen McManus (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

73:03

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.

72:53

Attempt blocked. James McFadden (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

71:23 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 2, Partick Thistle 3. Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from a difficult angle on the left to the bottom right corner.

70:04

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Stephen McManus.

69:51

Attempt blocked. Lyle Taylor (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

68:03

Attempt saved. Chris Erskine (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from outside the box is saved in the top centre of the goal.

67:15

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Stuart Bannigan.

66:48

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.

65:43 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 2, Partick Thistle 2. Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle) converts the penalty with a right footed shot to the top left corner.

64:51 Booking

Booking Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

64:39

Penalty conceded by Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) after a foul in the penalty area.

64:39

Penalty Partick Thistle. Aaron Taylor-Sinclair draws a foul in the penalty area.

64:11

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

64:11

Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

62:34

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

62:34

Foul by Lyle Taylor (Partick Thistle).

61:02

Attempt saved. Prince Buaben (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the top right corner.

58:19

Attempt missed. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the left.

56:58 Booking

Booking Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

56:52

Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

56:52

Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

55:54 Booking

Booking Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle) is shown the yellow card.

55:28

Foul by Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle).

55:28

Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.

54:34

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

54:23

Attempt blocked. Lyle Taylor (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

53:46

Hand ball by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

51:43 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 2, Partick Thistle 1. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the top right corner. Assisted by James McFadden.

48:21

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

47:47

Foul by Lyle Taylor (Partick Thistle).

47:47

Stephen McManus (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

45:00

Second Half begins Motherwell 1, Partick Thistle 1.

45:00 +1:00 Half time

Half Time First Half ends, Motherwell 1, Partick Thistle 1.

45:00 +0:27

Chris Erskine (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

45:00 +0:27

Foul by Stuart Carswell (Motherwell).

43:57

Foul by Prince Buaben (Partick Thistle).

43:57

James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

42:38 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 1, Partick Thistle 1. Keith Lasley (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box to the top right corner.

42:13

Attempt blocked. Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

41:27

Foul by Lyle Taylor (Partick Thistle).

41:27

Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

40:57

Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the right wing.

40:57

Foul by James McFadden (Motherwell).

39:51

Attempt blocked. Prince Buaben (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.

36:02 Goal scored

Goal! Goal! Motherwell 0, Partick Thistle 1. Chris Erskine (Partick Thistle) right footed shot from the centre of the box to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Kallum Higginbotham.

32:15

Attempt missed. Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle) left footed shot from outside the box is too high.

30:28

Foul by Lyle Taylor (Partick Thistle).

30:28

Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

29:46

Foul by Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle).

29:46

Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

28:11

Attempt missed. Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle) header from the centre of the box is close, but misses to the right.

27:41

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Gunnar Nielsen.

27:03

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Steven Hammell.

24:47

Hand ball by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

24:21

Gary Fraser (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick on the right wing.

24:21

Foul by James McFadden (Motherwell).

21:05

Attempt missed. Keith Lasley (Motherwell) left footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.

20:52

Attempt blocked. James McFadden (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.

18:27

Foul by James McFadden (Motherwell).

18:27

Lee Mair (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

17:01

Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

17:01

Kallum Higginbotham (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

13:25

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Lee Mair.

10:33

Delay in match Keith Lasley (Motherwell) because of an injury.

6:31

Corner, Partick Thistle. Conceded by Zaine Francis-Angol.

4:49

Attempt missed. Iain Vigurs (Motherwell) left footed shot from the centre of the box is just a bit too high.

2:23

Chris Erskine (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

2:23

Foul by Zaine Francis-Angol (Motherwell).

2:06

Attempt blocked. James McFadden (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box is blocked.

1:39

Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Gary Fraser.

0:00

First Half begins.

0:00

Lineups are announced and players are warming up.

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