There was a severe blow to Motherwell's top six hopes when they went down to a disappointing 2-0 derby defeat to Hamilton Accies at a wet and windy Superseal Stadium on Saturday, writes Craig Goldthorp.
Over 1000 away fans had little to cheer in a frantic clash which saw good play hampered by the greasy artificial playing surface, with goals in either half by Marios Ogkmpoe and David Templeton winning it for Accies.
The first chance arrived inside three minutes when Motherwell's Allan Campbell was dispossessed by Ogkmpoe whose snap shot was saved by keeper Trevor Carson.
Accies started the sharper side and went 1-0 up on 12 minutes when Ogkmpoe swivelled and scored after an Xavier Thomas shot was blocked following David Templeton's corner.
The Steelmen slowly gained a stranglehold and Richard Tait sent a low bullet shot just wide after a Campbell pass.
Accies were making life difficult for Motherwell by closing down the spaces in a hard fought period which saw visiting defender Cedric Kipre given the bird by the home support after grappling with fourth official Craig Charleston.
Motherwell survived a strong Accies penalty shout when a shot appeared to be blasted against the hand of Charles Dunne, but referee Don Robertson - a late replacement for Steven McLean - wasn't interested.
Curtis Main - Motherwell's mosty impressive player in the first half - made space outside the box for a left foot shot that went just wide after 33 minutes.
The last chance of the half for the visitors came when Tait's right footed delivery from the left was headed over by Main, with referee Robertson playing advantage after Kipre was bowled over.
This highly combative encounter saw hard fought challenges galore early in the second half, with silky soccer virtually impossible on the slippy synthetic surface.
Kipre was booked after an aerial collision with Ferguson, before gaffer Stephen Robinson heeded the visiting supporters' chants for sub Nadir Ciftci by bringing on the Turk and Gael Bigirimana for Andy Rose and Allan Campbell respectively.
Two chances then came and went in quick succession, Carl McHugh volleying over the Accies bar after Tait's cross from the left had been cleared, before Cadden woefully overhit a cross when Ciftci was waiting in the middle.
And Motherwell paid for this in the 69th minute by conceding a giveaway second goal. McHugh tried to feed the ball to Bigirimana in midfield when he had his back to him, Templeton gained possession and ran through before slotting past Carson.
It nearly got worse for the visitors when Templeton took a Ross Jenkins pass and had his goal attempt deflected over by Kipre.
Motherwell huffed and puffed but the nearest they came was in the very last minute when Bigirimana's speculative cross shot into the box from 35 yards was turned round by the Accies keeper.
In truth the Steelmen never really looked like scoring as they went down to their first defeat in their last five visits to Hamilton.
Motherwell: Carson, Tait (Bowman 74), Cadden, McHugh, Main, Rose (Ciftci 57), Dunne, Aldred, Kipré, Campbell, Tanner.
Referee: Don Robertson