Johnson heads winner in ’Well opener

Marvin Johnson netted the winner at Killie (Pic by Alan Watson)
Marvin Johnson netted the winner at Killie (Pic by Alan Watson)

Motherwell began their Scottish Premiership campaign with a thrilling 2-1 win at Kilmarnock on Saturday.

The early exchanges saw Souleymane Coulibaly shoot over for the hosts before ‘Well’s Chris Cadden produced a strong run into the box at the other end.

Killie boss Lee Clark’s touchline antics saw him sent to the stand by referee Craig Thomson before the Steelmen went close twice in quick succession with Craig Clay heading a Stevie Hammell cross just wide and Scott McDonald volleying a Lionel Ainsworth cross off target at the back post.

McDonald set up Johnson to shoot powerfully over and the English winger then sent a free-kick wide.

Killie’s Stevie Smith sent a setpiece of his own just too high and the hosts came close again when Miles Addison bulleted a header over from Dean Hawkshaw’s corner.

Motherwell almost went ahead in bizarre fashion on 38 minutes when Clay’s block from a clearance forced a fine save by MacDonald.

But the visitors did go ahead in spectacular fashion on 39 minutes when Ainsworth brilliantly lobbed the ball over MacDonald following a McDonald pass.

Johnson missed a great chance to extend the visitors’ lead when his low shot was blocked by MacDonald.

The away fans were in great voice at this point, with a lively rendition of Twist and Shout demonstrating their approval.

And they were going delirious again just 30 seconds into the second half when Johnson bulleted home Cadden’s cross from the right for 2-0. Johnson was booked for his over zealous celebrations.

Killie came close to levelling when Boyd’s volley was brilliantly saved by Samson. But the ‘Well keeper was lucky a minute later when he came rushing out of his box and lost the ball to Coulibaly, who shot wide.

A sickening clash of heads between Motherwell’s Carl McHugh and Killie’s Hawkshaw saw both players substituted.

Ainsworth missed a 67th minute sitter from close range after Johnson’s fine cross, before the winger sent Johnson running in on MacDonald who saved.

Boyd had a free-kick saved but the hosts did score on 81 minutes when sub Martin Smith nodded in a Taylor cross.

Late Killie pressure saw Coulibaly shoot just wide. The same player then had a shot brilliantly blocked by Richard Tait.

It ended 2-1 for the visitors.