One of the true ‘joys’ of being a Motherwell supporter is that you literally have no idea what is going to happen in matches from one week to the next.
Odds on favourites to beat a newly promoted side at home, having impressively brushed aside Hamilton Accies, Hibs and Hearts while scoring nine goals over the previous three weekends, the Steelmen somehow contrived to lose 2-1 to Ross County at Fir Park on Saturday after leading 1-0 with 15 minutes remaining.
It was one of those games which make you realise why managers seemingly get grey hairs quicker than any other group of people on the planet earth.
A disallowed headed goal by Declan Gallagher early on, the failure to win a penalty for an apparent handball by County defender Keith Watson in the second half, the controversial second booking and red card for left back Jake Carroll and the concession of two soft goals in the last 15 minutes could have had Motherwell gaffer Stephen Robinson tearing out his grey locks in clumps.
That and the fact that Motherwell dominated proceedings overall and home keeper Mark Gillespie was about as busy fielding County shots as the Motherwell ground staff were at repairing divots on the immaculate, bowling green like surface under the Fir Park sunshine.
What makes the final result such an annoyance is that Motherwell would have climbed to second in the Scottish Premiership by winning (for 24 hours at least as Rangers played and won on Sunday) and there were several fine performances from players in claret and amber.
Special mention must go to Scotland under-21 star Allan Campbell, who tends to hit the Scottish sporting headlines about as much as the Indian Kabaddi second division, which remains a mystery as he is consistently excellent in his combative midfield role.
It was Campbell who deservedly fired ’Well ahead on 61 minutes against the Highlanders when he swept the ball home first time after a brilliant burst forward by Devante Cole and a set up pass by James Scott.
Optimism abounded from brightly coloured fans in home stands which – to my memory – were as packed with spectators as they’ve been for years for a bog standard home game against a fellow provincial side.
Quite simply, these supporters assumed their favourites would either grind out a single goal win or add to their tally, such was the balance of play.
But, underlining the unpredictability of Motherwell outlined earlier in this piece, the Steelmen then capitulated in the final quarter hour of the match to somehow turn a winning position into a defeat.
County sub Brian Graham – who also scored both goals at Fir Park as County beat the Steelmen 2-1 in a William Hill Scottish Cup tie in January – proved a thorn in the side again as he shot home clinically after a brilliant run and pass from the impressive Michael Gardyne.
The game took another twist on 80 minutes when Motherwell left back Carroll was sent off after an aerial collision with Ross Stewart.
The second yellow card followed by a red by referee Alan Muir looked harsh.
And it was 2-1 County on 88 minutes when Richard Foster’s long cross from the left was headed in at the back post by Ross Stewart.
The air of disbelief around the stadium at the final whistle was eerily quiet, as if home fans couldn’t quite comprehend what they’d just witnessed.