Motherwell made it two wins on the spin with an impressive result and performance away to Livingston, achieving a 2-0 victory.
Stephen Robinson’s side were superior in the first-half and earned a comfortable lead thanks to Callum Lang and Tony Watt efforts. They managed the game well in the second 45 as Gary Holt’s team looked for a way back, unable to do so on a disappointing day for the Lions.
There were top six incentives for both teams heading into this one. A victory for either could have taken them into the top six, a particular motivation for Motherwell who had two games in hand at 3PM.
Weather conditions were atrocious in West Lothian, gale-force winds wiping a pretty game off the cards before a ball was kicked. Both pushed forward early on but it was Motherwell who broke the deadlock.
Lang was played behind the Livingston defence, the Wigan loanee showing great feet to beat the defenders in front of him and guiding a shot past Max Stryjek. It was the only real chance inside the first 22 minutes but Lang was clinical.
Livi were far from out of things, Jason Holt testing Aaron Chapman with a nice shot but Well’s towering stopper reacted quickly to catch. Liam Polworth set Motherwell up for another big chance towards the half’s end, sending Devante Cole through on goal but he could only fire over.
Watt would make sure that wasn’t one to rue. Mark O’Hara forced a good save from Stryjek directly from his 20-yard free-kick, Motherwell’s number 32 following up for his second goal in as many games.
Robinson’s side certainly merited their two-goal lead at half-time, Holt left with thinking to do at the break. The second 45 started much like the first did, in cagey fashion with neither team doing much in attack.
This of course suited Motherwell but Livingston needed some forward thinking and fast. They were seeing more of the ball in the final third as the half wore on, the visitors content with their lead.
But little in terms of clear chances were being created, Scott Tiffoney going close with a header in one opening before a goal line scramble towards the end. Motherwell held on for three points as they head back to Fir Park in high spirits. Here are three things we learned.
Changes in similar areas
Livingston and Motherwell didn’t start with their first-choice keepers in this one. Stryjek started last week against Rangers as Robby McCrorie was ineligible but retained his place against the Well, Chapman meanwhile lining up for Robinson with Trevor Carson out injured.
Neither did themselves a disservice, Stryjek unable to do all that much about the goals he conceded, albeit he’ll be disappointed with the second as he made a stop to deny O’Hara. Chapman at the other end meanwhile was solid, his throws of roughly 75 yards catching the eye.
Top six prize
Potentially getting into the top half was the prize for this game’s winner. Livingston weren’t really at it in large parts of this game, whereas Motherwell seemed hungry to achieve a fine result on the road.
They were clinical in the first half and assured in the second, lifting them into joint-sixth. Dependent on how Kilmarnock v Rangers goes on Sunday, Motherwell may find themselves clear in sixth place with two fixtures to be rearranged still.
O’Hara giving Well defensive relief
Robinson is not short of injury problems at the back. Motherwell backline men in Charles Dunne, Jake Carroll, Bevis Mugabi, Ricki Lamie, Liam Grimshaw, Carson and Scott Fox were all missing.
Step forward O’Hara, the central midfielder filling in for his second game at centre-back. He was imperious in the 4-0 win over Ross County and was again inspiring in this clash with brilliant defensive awareness, not putting a foot wrong.