Scottish Premiership
Ross CountyRoss County1MotherwellMotherwell2

Ross County 1-2 Motherwell: Players' courage 'exceptional', says Alexander

By Nick McPheatBBC Scotland

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander hailed his players' courage as "exceptional" to fight back and earn a vital win over Scottish Premiership relegation rivals Ross County.

Devante Cole cancelled out Oli Shaw's first-half opener before Bevis Mugabi's header won the game for the visitors.

The victory is Alexander's first as Fir Park boss and ends Motherwell's 12-game winless league run.

"It's an excellent night for everybody," Alexander said.

"The courage they showed in the second half was exceptional. Every credit to the players. It's a great confidence boost for them."

After a positive start from Alexander's side, it was the hosts who had the first sight of goal as Iain Vigurs lashed over a shot from the edge of the area.

Cole then did well to make a yard for himself before having a close-range finish smothered by Ross Laidlaw and it proved to be a crucial save with the opening goal coming just minutes later.

Declan Gallagher misjudged a long ball, which allowed Jermaine Hylton to get in behind the Scotland centre-half and the former Motherwell winger's finish slipped through the hands of goalkeeper Liam Kelly, leaving Shaw to tap home into an empty net.

Hylton then passed up the chance to double County's lead, failing to cushion a volley on target.

Motherwell pushed for a leveller as a deflected strike from Allan Campbell curled wide. However, like so often this season, the Lanarkshire side struggled to create anything of note.

Just six minutes into the second half, though, the visitors scored their first equaliser of the entire campaign as Laidlaw could only parry Tony Watt's shot into the path of Cole, who converted his third goal in four games.

The goal sparked Motherwell into life as Robbie Crawford and Watt tried their luck before Jake Carroll's outswinging corner was met by Mugabi, who rose highest to power home the winning goal.

The hosts pushed for an equaliser, as a deflected volley from Blair Spittal drifted just wide and Jason Naismith could only direct a header straight at Kelly.

However, Alexander's men held firm to secure a vital three points and a first win since October.

Man of the match - Tony Watt

Tony Watt
Tony Watt's effort is unrivalled in this Motherwell team and the striker single-handedly dragged his side back into the game in the second half

What did we learn?

So often this season, Motherwell have crumbled when going a goal behind.

The fight of the players has been questioned, but the turnaround in Dingwall should do wonders for the confidence and belief of the squad. It is the first time since March last year that they have come from behind to take points.

As for County, recent wins against Hibernian and Aberdeen show that the Highlanders are capable of getting results against the league's tougher opposition.

However, they now have to show that they can get the job done against teams that are in the dogfight with them and John Hughes' side will have the chance to put that right next week when they travel to Hamilton.

What they said

Ross County manager John Hughes: "The first half was even. I said at half time let's not sit back, try and take the game to Motherwell.

"We conceded poor goals again. You can't have free headers in your own box. The last 15 minutes there was real effort to get the equaliser but it was a little bit too late."

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander: "The players have took criticism this season, and rightly so, and at half-time it wasn't looking great.

"But it's the first time we've won for a while and it's the first time this season the team has come from behind to take points."

What's next?

Both sides return to action next Wednesday (18:00 GMT) as County travel to Hamilton Academical and Motherwell welcome Dundee United.

Player of the match

WattTony Watt

with an average of 7.75

Ross County

  1. Squad number24Player namePaton
    Average rating

    6.28

  2. Squad number14Player nameHylton
    Average rating

    6.18

  3. Squad number16Player nameIacovitti
    Average rating

    6.07

  4. Squad number8Player nameShaw
    Average rating

    6.06

  5. Squad number5Player nameMorris
    Average rating

    5.89

  6. Squad number4Player nameHjelde
    Average rating

    5.87

  7. Squad number23Player nameNaismith
    Average rating

    5.84

  8. Squad number17Player nameCharles-Cook
    Average rating

    5.81

  9. Squad number11Player nameVigurs
    Average rating

    5.71

  10. Squad number1Player nameLaidlaw
    Average rating

    5.62

  11. Squad number6Player nameDraper
    Average rating

    5.45

  12. Squad number7Player nameGardyne
    Average rating

    5.32

  13. Squad number20Player nameSpittal
    Average rating

    5.03

  14. Squad number9Player nameMckay
    Average rating

    4.52

Motherwell

  1. Squad number32Player nameWatt
    Average rating

    7.75

  2. Squad number16Player nameMugabi
    Average rating

    7.29

  3. Squad number44Player nameCole
    Average rating

    7.16

  4. Squad number3Player nameCarroll
    Average rating

    6.67

  5. Squad number33Player nameO'Donnell
    Average rating

    6.56

  6. Squad number6Player nameCampbell
    Average rating

    6.53

  7. Squad number15Player nameMaguire
    Average rating

    6.49

  8. Squad number31Player nameGallagher
    Average rating

    6.27

  9. Squad number13Player nameKelly
    Average rating

    6.19

  10. Squad number29Player nameSmith
    Average rating

    6.06

  11. Squad number4Player nameLamie
    Average rating

    5.97

  12. Squad number99Player nameLong
    Average rating

    5.96

  13. Squad number8Player nameCrawford
    Average rating

    5.82

  14. Squad number5Player nameMcGinley
    Average rating

    5.62

Line-ups

Ross County

Formation 4-5-1

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 23Naismith
  • 5MorrisBooked at 56mins
  • 16Iacovitti
  • 4HjeldeBooked at 45mins
  • 17Charles-CookSubstituted forSpittalat 69'minutes
  • 6DraperBooked at 59mins
  • 11VigursBooked at 75minsSubstituted forMckayat 77'minutes
  • 24Paton
  • 14HyltonBooked at 60mins
  • 8ShawSubstituted forGardyneat 69'minutes

Substitutes

  • 7Gardyne
  • 9Mckay
  • 15Watson
  • 18Kelly
  • 19Lakin
  • 20Spittal
  • 21Hilton
  • 22Tillson
  • 28Andreu

Motherwell

Formation 4-3-3

  • 13Kelly
  • 33O'Donnell
  • 16Mugabi
  • 31Gallagher
  • 3Carroll
  • 15Maguire
  • 6Campbell
  • 8Crawford
  • 99LongSubstituted forSmithat 72'minutes
  • 44ColeSubstituted forLamieat 85'minutes
  • 32WattSubstituted forMcGinleyat 90+1'minutes

Substitutes

  • 4Lamie
  • 5McGinley
  • 11Hastie
  • 14Lawless
  • 17Seedorf
  • 23Morrison
  • 25MacIver
  • 27Johnston
  • 29Smith
Referee:
Nick Walsh

Match Stats

Home TeamRoss CountyAway TeamMotherwell
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home11
Away12
Shots on Target
Home5
Away6
Corners
Home5
Away10
Fouls
Home23
Away13

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Ross County 1, Motherwell 2.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Ross County 1, Motherwell 2.

  3. Post update

    Jake Carroll (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  4. Post update

    Foul by Billy Mckay (Ross County).

  5. Post update

    Foul by Allan Campbell (Motherwell).

  6. Post update

    Harrison Paton (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  7. Post update

    Attempt saved. Jason Naismith (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ross Draper with a cross.

  8. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. Nathan McGinley replaces Tony Watt.

  9. Post update

    Allan Campbell (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  10. Post update

    Foul by Michael Gardyne (Ross County).

  11. Post update

    Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Jake Carroll.

  12. Post update

    Corner, Ross County. Conceded by Jake Carroll.

  13. Post update

    Foul by Ricki Lamie (Motherwell).

  14. Post update

    Leo Fuhr Hjelde (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Corner, Motherwell. Conceded by Callum Morris.

  16. Post update

    Robbie Crawford (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Blair Spittal (Ross County).

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. Ricki Lamie replaces Devante Cole.

  19. Post update

    Attempt missed. Billy Mckay (Ross County) header from the centre of the box is too high. Assisted by Michael Gardyne with a cross.

  20. Post update

    Devante Cole (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

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