’Well in top six despite Celts loss

Motherwell goalscorer Scott McDonald tussles with Dedryk Boyata of Celtic
Motherwell goalscorer Scott McDonald tussles with Dedryk Boyata of Celtic

Motherwell secured their place in the top six despite a 2-1 defeat to Celtic at Fir Park, ending a run of five consecutive victories, writes Craig Cairns.

Scott McDonald equalised in the second half but Celtic ran out victors when Connor Ripley allowed a Leigh Griffiths strike to slip through his legs, gifting the striker his second goal of the match.

It was a disappointing end to a terrific performance from the Motherwell goalkeeper.

Despite the loss, defeats for St Johnstone and Dundee later in the day means that Mark McGhee’s men will be playing top six football for the remainder of the season.

Celtic dominated the first half, testing Ripley on a number ofoccasions.

Griffiths, Stefan Johansen, Patrick Roberts and Nir Bitton were all denied by the English stopper before Celtic got a penalty in the 25th minute.

The tricky Roberts danced his way into the box and was brought down by Morgaro Gomis, but Griffiths fired the spot-kick wide.

The game then stepped up a gear with meaty challenges from both sides in quick succession.

Ripley was called into action four more times – denying Griffiths in a one-on- one, smartly saving a close-range Colin Kazim-Richards strike with his feet and acrobatically denying Kieran Tierney, before once more keeping out Roberts.

Just as the home side thought they had got in at half-time level, Griffiths struck Tierney’s cross low to open the scoring on 43 minutes.

McGhee changed the shape at half-time, moving Louis Moult from a wide position to partner Scott McDonald in attack.

The switch worked as Motherwell attacked more efficiently while reducing the amount of Celtic chances.

Within 10 minutes of the restart, McDonald was denied a goal after a marginal offside but he soon had ’Well level.

Cadden muscled his way on to Keith Lasley’s through ball at the byline before cutting back for the Australian, who peeled off his marker before firing past Craig Gordon.

Motherwell failed to take further advantage of their dominant spell and were punished by Griffiths once more with around 15 minutes remaining.

Ripley had again denied Celtic several times – taking his save tally into double figures – but allowed the strike to slip through his legs before it trundled into the net.

It proved to be the winner and took the shine off the goalkeeper’s most impressive performance in a Motherwell shirt.