Oz-some winner lifts ’Well spirits

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Motherwell’s first game since the sacking of manager Ian Baraclough saw them earn a crucial 2-1 home Scottish Premiership win over bottom side Partick Thistle on Saturday.

Caretaker Motherwell manager Stephen Craigan said: “It was never going to be a classic between two teams struggling for form.

“I’d said to the boys, irrespective of what happened, at 10 to five, three points was the must.

“Credit to every single one of them, that is what they did.”

’Well’s Marvin Johnson had a fifth minute shot saved by Thistle keeper Tomas Cerny, before the visitors almost went ahead when Robbie Muirhead headed over Connor Ripley’s crossbar after a cross from the left.

Despite their unconvincing start, Motherwell took the lead when Lionel Ainsworth’s fine run and shot on 21 minutes ended with Thistle defender FREDERIC FRANS putting the ball into his own net.

Partick almost equalised four minutes later when Kris Doolan’s looping header was pushed over by Ripley at full stretch.

Doolan then shot against the post before Thistle players Abdul Osman and Frans were both booked for separate fouls on Scott McDonald.

A fine 47th minute run and shot by Ainsworth was saved by Cerny before the winger’s free-kick was headed just wide by Louis Moult.

Returning ’Well star Stephen Pearson – who had a fine game despite only being 70 per cent fit – was on the end of a bad challenge from Thistle’s Welsh who was booked.

’Well went 2-0 up on 69 minutes when an unmarked MCDONALD shot home the rebound after his initial header from man-of-the-match Ainsworth’s right wing cross had been saved.

Fir Park skipper Keith Lasley was booked for a foul on Osman before ’Well striker Wes Fletcher made his return from injury as a sub for McDonald.

Thistle made a nervy last few minutes for Motherwell by netting a 78th minute goal when AMOO headed home following a corner.

The visitors almost snatched a draw but Steven Lawless’s 83rd minute shot hit the post.

’Well’s battling 2-1 triumph owed much to defender Kieran Kennedy’s gutsy show in the mould of Craigan himself.

Motherwell: Ripley, Grimshaw, McManus, Ainsworth, Pearson, Johnson (Thomas 64), Lasley, Chalmers, Kennedy, Moult (Leitch 61), McDonald (Fletcher 76).

Partick: Cerny, Seaborne, Welsh, Booth, Osman, Bannigan (Amoo 75), Doolan (Nisbet 57), Lawless, Frans, Dumbuya, Muirhead (Pogba 64).

Crowd: 3963

Referee: Steven McLean.