Scottish Premiership
MotherwellMotherwell2Ross CountyRoss County1

Motherwell 2-1 Ross County: Tony Watt strikes late to earn hosts wins

By Jack HerrallBBC Sport Scotland
Tony Watt cracked in the winner to move Motherwell up to third
Tony Watt cracked in the winner to move Motherwell up to third

Tony Watt's late Scottish Premiership winner against Ross County snatched Motherwell's "biggest three points" so far this season, says Graham Alexander.

Callum Slattery's stunning early strike had seemingly put the Fir Park side on course to finish the day in the division's top three.

But a Regan Charles-Cook cross evaded everyone, including helpless goalkeeper Liam Kelly, and found the net to level.

However, Watt struck with 10 minutes to play to move Motherwell up to third.

The Fir Park side remain two points behind leaders Rangers and one adrift of second-placed Hearts, while County stay 11th.

"We're not pretending we particularly played at our best, but we dug out a game that was on an even keel, which is a great trait to have," Alexander said.

"I thought this week that this would be our toughest challenge and it was."

Only goals scored keeps County off the foot of the division, but manager Malky Mackay will be encouraged by how they managed to fight their way back into the game after the early concession.

Despite their opening goal, Motherwell were not involved much in the first half other than trying to keep the Dingwall side quiet as they began their search for an equaliser.

Blair Spittal was the visitors' bright spark and had a volley from a narrow angle at the back-post thwarted by Kelly.

Motherwell struggled to create openings but were comfortable in defence and limited County to half-chances and shots from distance for the most part.

Spittal had another opportunity after gliding past Juhani Ojala, but ballooned his shot over the bar from close range after the ball had ping-ponged around the Motherwell box.

Motherwell, fresh from a draw at Ibrox and unbeaten in four, started the second half in a confident and energetic manner.

Watt crashed a free header off the bar from a Stephen O'Donnell cross, but the hosts fell out of the game again, even if their defence was well-equipped to keep the ball out of the net.

County's attacking football was a joy to watch at times, with Ross Callachan, Joseph Hungbo and Jordan White linking up effectively.

Jack Burroughs went close, driving in from the left and flashing a shot narrowly wide, before County hit the bar themselves when Callachan cut back to on-loan Watford winger Hungbo, who struck the frame of the goal from close range.

Burroughs had another sight of goal but could not beat Kelly and County were punished when Motherwell found a winner with 10 minutes to play.

Ricki Lamie floated a ball over the top of the County defence and Watt showed great composure with an excellent first touch before he unleashed a powerful strike past Ashley Maynard-Brewer.

Man of the match

Motherwell v Ross County
Slattery was the key for Motherwell in transition as they moved forward and he was also instrumental in breaking up County's momentum

What did we learn?

Motherwell are now well-versed in weathering storms. Much like their last two league outings - particularly against Aberdeen - they weren't always in control of the game but managed to find the key goal when it mattered.

County showed great character to rally after going behind early on in the match but despite the quantity of chances they had they were let down by the quality of them.

Hungbo came off the bench at the break and looked like the dynamic attacker they will need as Mackay's men search for their first three points this season.

What did they say?

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander: "Today was a tough game and as we expected County really worked us hard. They grew into the game and had opportunities.

"This was a game that we lost last season in similar circumstances after going ahead earlier then they equalised so every credit to the players for winning."

Ross County manager Malky Mackay: "My centre backs were up against a challenge. The amount of long balls and balls floated into the box, and Motherwell being a big team, was a real challenge and I thought that to a man they were great.

"The second half we kept feeding young Hungbo and he was excellent. He has great pace and he'll only get more confident from today."

What's next?

Motherwell travel to Hearts in the Premiership on Saturday (15:00 BST), while County are at Dundee United at the same time.

Player of the match

WattTony Watt

with an average of 7.38

Motherwell

  1. Squad number32Player nameWatt
    Average rating

    7.38

  2. Squad number9Player namevan Veen
    Average rating

    7.08

  3. Squad number16Player nameSlattery
    Average rating

    6.95

  4. Squad number14Player nameOjala
    Average rating

    6.70

  5. Squad number2Player nameO'Donnell
    Average rating

    6.66

  6. Squad number22Player nameDonnelly
    Average rating

    6.59

  7. Squad number8Player nameO'Hara
    Average rating

    6.54

  8. Squad number4Player nameLamie
    Average rating

    6.37

  9. Squad number3Player nameCarroll
    Average rating

    6.35

  10. Squad number7Player nameWoolery
    Average rating

    6.34

  11. Squad number19Player nameMcGinley
    Average rating

    6.24

  12. Squad number28Player nameRoberts
    Average rating

    6.22

  13. Squad number23Player nameGrimshaw
    Average rating

    6.18

  14. Squad number1Player nameKelly
    Average rating

    5.72

Ross County

  1. Squad number6Player namePaton
    Average rating

    7.28

  2. Squad number17Player nameCharles-Cook
    Average rating

    7.07

  3. Squad number18Player nameBurroughs
    Average rating

    6.80

  4. Squad number7Player nameSpittal
    Average rating

    6.58

  5. Squad number26Player nameWhite
    Average rating

    6.45

  6. Squad number8Player nameCallachan
    Average rating

    5.81

  7. Squad number5Player nameBaldwin
    Average rating

    5.81

  8. Squad number16Player nameIacovitti
    Average rating

    5.78

  9. Squad number23Player nameHungbo
    Average rating

    5.67

  10. Squad number15Player nameWatson
    Average rating

    5.67

  11. Squad number22Player nameTillson
    Average rating

    5.65

  12. Squad number20Player nameClarke
    Average rating

    5.24

  13. Squad number31Player nameMaynard-Brewer
    Average rating

    5.20

  14. Squad number11Player nameRobertson
    Average rating

    4.23

Line-ups

Motherwell

Formation 4-3-3

  • 1Kelly
  • 2O'Donnell
  • 14Ojala
  • 4Lamie
  • 19McGinley
  • 23GrimshawSubstituted forDonnellyat 63'minutesBooked at 78mins
  • 16SlatteryBooked at 62mins
  • 8O'Hara
  • 7WoolerySubstituted forRobertsat 63'minutes
  • 32WattBooked at 90mins
  • 9van VeenSubstituted forCarrollat 82'minutes

Substitutes

  • 3Carroll
  • 6Maguire
  • 12Fox
  • 17Amaluzor
  • 20Crawford
  • 22Donnelly
  • 28Roberts

Ross County

Formation 3-4-1-2

  • 31Maynard-Brewer
  • 5Baldwin
  • 16Iacovitti
  • 18Burroughs
  • 15WatsonBooked at 47minsSubstituted forClarkeat 51'minutes
  • 6PatonBooked at 37minsSubstituted forRobertsonat 81'minutes
  • 22Tillson
  • 17Charles-CookBooked at 41minsSubstituted forHungboat 45'minutes
  • 8CallachanBooked at 90mins
  • 26White
  • 7Spittal

Substitutes

  • 1Laidlaw
  • 4Cancola
  • 9Samuel
  • 11Robertson
  • 20Clarke
  • 23Hungbo
  • 24Paton
Referee:
Craig Napier
Attendance:
4,477

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamRoss County
Possession
Home47%
Away53%
Shots
Home12
Away18
Shots on Target
Home5
Away6
Corners
Home0
Away3
Fouls
Home16
Away18

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Motherwell 2, Ross County 1.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Motherwell 2, Ross County 1.

  3. Post update

    Foul by Alex Robertson (Ross County).

  4. Post update

    Tony Watt (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  5. Booking

    Ross Callachan (Ross County) is shown the yellow card.

  6. Booking

    Tony Watt (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

  7. Post update

    Joseph Hungbo (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Callum Slattery (Motherwell).

  9. Post update

    Attempt missed. Alex Iacovitti (Ross County) left footed shot from outside the box is high and wide to the left.

  10. Post update

    Joseph Hungbo (Ross County) wins a free kick on the left wing.

  11. Post update

    Foul by Stephen O'Donnell (Motherwell).

  12. Post update

    Foul by Jack Burroughs (Ross County).

  13. Post update

    Liam Donnelly (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  14. Post update

    Jack Burroughs (Ross County) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  15. Post update

    Foul by Mark O'Hara (Motherwell).

  16. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. Jake Carroll replaces Kevin van Veen.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Jordan White (Ross County).

  18. Post update

    Ricki Lamie (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Ross County. Alex Robertson replaces Harrison Paton.

  20. Goal!

    Goal! Motherwell 2, Ross County 1. Tony Watt (Motherwell) right footed shot from the right side of the box to the centre of the goal. Assisted by Ricki Lamie.

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TeamPWDLFAGDPts
1Rangers7511125716
2Hearts7430125715
3Motherwell7421117414
4Hibernian6330126612
5Dundee Utd631234-110
6Celtic6303164129
7Aberdeen62226608
8St Johnstone613234-16
9St Mirren6042512-74
10Livingston7115312-94
11Ross County7034615-93
12Dundee7034413-93
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