Blair McNally

Stephen O’Donnell plunged former club Kilmarnock back into the Scottish Premiership’s relegation play-off spot with a 2-0 Motherwell win at Fir Park.

Devante Cole’s finish two minutes after half-time and O’Donnell’s strike against the club he joined Motherwell from last year was enough to seal a win. The Lanarkshire side have moved into seventh while handing their local rivals Hamilton a boost after their win over St Mirren, splitting the bottom three by three points as Kilmarnock sit 11th.

Motherwell v Glentoran - UEFA Europa League: First Qualifying Round

O’Donnell haunted his former club. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

The first chance of the match arrived for the home side with 10 minutes on the clock. A driving run down the left from Nathan McGinley found Jake Hastie free in the Kilmarnock box. He failed to capitalise, heading just over Danny Rogers’ bar.

As the heavens opened, so did the play on the park as both teams went at it in the torrential conditions. A matter of minutes after the break, Cole had ‘Well in the lead. A perfectly executed one-two with Christopher Long played the ball into the Englishman’s feet.

He kept his composure and curled past Rodgers into the bottom right corner for his 11th goal of the season. 10 minutes later the away side were unfortunate not to be level, Kyle Lafferty’s strike from the edge of the area cannoning off Rickie Lamie’s leg, leaving Liam Kelly wrong-footed as the ball skimmed the outside of the post.

Burke missed a huge chance. (Photo by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images)

Kelly was called into action soon enough. Chris Burke’s cross was cleared only as far as Lafferty on the edge of the area. He unleashed a venomous volley, forcing Kelly into a flying save to keep his clean sheet intact.

The provider was soon to be the perpetrator as 15 minutes from time, Burke was inches from a leveller. Finding space 25 yards from goal, Burke attempted an audacious curling effort over Kelly in the Motherwell goal, only to see it come off the top the bar.

Kilmarnock’s hopes of a late equaliser were tarnished five minutes from time as O’Donnell doubled the home side’s lead.  Cole’s cross was met by the right-back who touched and drilled the ball expertly past Rodgers. Here are three things we learned.

St Johnstone v Celtic - Ladbrokes Scottish Premiership

Disappointment for Wright. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Motherwell in pole position

With the split now in place, ‘Well leap into 7th spot with two games remaining. Graham Alexander’s side have it in their own hands to finish best of the rest in the bottom six.

Lafferty key to Killie Success

Despite failing to score, the Northern Irishman was unfortunate not to have his name on the scoresheet as he continued to cause serious threat up front. Killie’s problems have come in the attack this season but Lafferty looks to have changed that with 10 goals in his nine matches for the Rugby Park side. They need to keep him fit.

Summer window key

Both teams will be keen to return to their form of recent years after dropping into the bottom half of the table this year. Maintaining key players in the squad whilst adding some much-needed quality is required if either team want to return to the top half of the league and avoid the threat of relegation next season. Killie need to survive first.

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