Match ends, Ross County 1, Motherwell 2.
Scottish Premiership: Ross County 1-2 Motherwell
Motherwell kept up the pressure on fourth-placed Aberdeen with a hard-fought win away to Ross County.
John Sutton opened the scoring for Motherwell after 15 minutes, striking from 18 yards past Ross County keeper Michael Fraser.
Ten minutes later, Keith Lasley's shot was palmed away but Sutton was on hand to head home before Melvin De Leeuw's header reduced the deficit.
County pressed until the dying minutes for a leveller that never arrived.
The Highland side lost only 11 league fixtures last season, but are already into double figures this term, having now suffered their tenth defeat in 15 top-flight games.
Motherwell, who came into the game having scored just three goals in their last seven games, found the net inside the first 15 minutes.
A simple ball to the centrally-placed Sutton saw him turn and shoot from 20 yards, his strike picking up a deflection as it evaded Fraser.
The goal came within a minute of the first meaningful action of the match after Richard Brittain had struck the crossbar with a 26-yard free kick that looked to have beaten debutant goalkeeper Dan Twardzik.
The home side struggled to find a rhythm and soon found themselves two goals down.
In the 27th minute Henri Anier saw a hard hit shot parried by Fraser but unluckily for the keeper the ball spun wickedly up into the air and Sutton was left with a simple jumping header to net his and Motherwell's second.
Derek Adams responded by withdrawing Marc Klok, who had been playing in a holding midfield role, and introduced striker Kevin Luckassen to play alongside De Leeuw.
It was that partnership that combined to get County back into the match 16 minutes into the second half.
The home side had shown more purpose and both Brittain and Quinn had chances prior to the goal.
Luckassen showed great persistence to get his cross in from the right and De Leeuw muscled his way to the ball first to head them back into the match.
The equaliser for Ross County appeared to arrive in 67 minutes when Brian McLean powerfully headed in a Graham Carey corner but referee Crawford Allan had spotted an infringement and the goal was ruled out.
Motherwell were rarely a threat in the second half, which was all the more surprising given their first-half play, and they had to hold out in the end for the win.
Gary Glen with his first touch failed to connect correctly, one of several chances that Ross County wasted in the last 15 minutes of the match as they sought to earn a point.
Instead, their lack of composure in the penalty box saw them pass up chances and instead of earning a point, they suffered their third successive home loss.
- 18KlokSubstituted forLuckassenat 31'minutes
- 11De Leeuw
- 23CareySubstituted forGlenat 73'minutes
- 4RamsdenBooked at 67mins
- 18CarswellBooked at 50mins
- 5HutchinsonBooked at 72mins
- 25AinsworthSubstituted forLawsonat 82'minutes
- 14LasleyBooked at 59mins
- 24AnierSubstituted forMooreat 76'minutes
- 11VigursSubstituted forMcFaddenat 78'minutes
- Crawford Allan
- Shots on Target
Second Half ends, Ross County 1, Motherwell 2.
Attempt missed. Stuart Carswell (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box misses to the left.
Attempt missed. Rocco Quinn (Ross County) right footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Stuart Carswell.
Foul by Craig Moore (Motherwell).
Brian McLean (Ross County) wins a free kick on the right wing.
Attempt missed. John Sutton (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is close, but misses the top right corner.
Craig Moore (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).
Foul by Stephen McManus (Motherwell).
Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Richard Brittain.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Michael Fraser.
Attempt saved. Craig Moore (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Attempt missed. Rocco Quinn (Ross County) right footed shot from the right side of the box misses to the left.
Foul by Simon Ramsden (Motherwell).
Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Stephen McManus (Motherwell) right footed shot from the centre of the box is blocked.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Scott Boyd.
James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Mihael Kovacevic (Ross County).
Substitution, Motherwell. Paul Lawson replaces Lionel Ainsworth.
Attempt saved. Melvin De Leeuw (Ross County) right footed shot from the centre of the box is saved in the bottom left corner.
Substitution, Motherwell. James McFadden replaces Iain Vigurs.
Foul by John Sutton (Motherwell).
(Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Lionel Ainsworth (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Ben Gordon (Ross County).
Substitution, Motherwell. Craig Moore replaces Henri Anier.
Attempt missed. Gary Glen (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.
Attempt saved. Kevin Luckassen (Ross County) right footed shot from the right side of the box is saved in the centre of the goal.
Attempt blocked. Keith Lasley (Motherwell) right footed shot from outside the box is blocked.
Substitution, Ross County. Gary Glen replaces Graham Carey.
Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.
Foul by Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell).
Rocco Quinn (Ross County) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Brian McLean.
Shaun Hutchinson (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.
Foul by Kevin Luckassen (Ross County).