Motherwell 2-0 Ross County

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.

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