A brace from Stephen Pearson and a Keith Lasley goal gave Motherwell a 3-1 victory at Ross County on Wednesday night.
The win sealed fifth place in the Scottish Premiership for ’Well, an outstanding achievement considering they were second bottom as recently as February.
Motherwell took the lead after just four minutes when Pearson rolled the ball into an empty net after Louis Moult had squared the ball after being sent clear by Scott McDonald.
County’s defence was looking shaky early on as they conceded a succession of corners and it was from one of these that the visitors doubled their lead after 17 minutes.
Stevie Hammell’s low delivery from the right found Chris Cadden, whose blocked shot fell to Keith Lasley on the edge of the box.
The ‘Well skipper’s low effort beat County keeper Scott Fox at his right post to put ’Well 2-0 up.
The Steelmen were playing some incisive passing football and they almost made it 3-0 when Moult skipped past three County defenders and unleashed a shot which was deflected just over off Jackson Irvine.
Play was then delayed when McDonald hit the deck after being caught by Jackson Irvine’s high boot.
And McDonald was booked just two minutes later for fouling his fellow Aussie.
County finally enjoyed a period of pressure and this culminated in David Goodwillie shooting over from close range after sub Raffele De Vita’s cross had been met by Michael Gardyne.
Fox then stopped a low Johnson shot after Pearson’s pass and the first half ended with ‘Well 2-0 up.
County started the second half the better team and Goodwillie miscontrolled right in front of goal after De Vita’s cross from the left.
Stephen McManus – who had a fine match at the heart of the ’Well defence – made a crucial interception to deny Goodwillie as County cranked up the pressure.
‘Well custodian Craig Samson then made a brilliant point blank save from Goodwillie’s shot before Hammell was booked for a foul on Gardyne six minutes later.
County’s Alex Schalk shot just wide before home skipper Paul Quinn was booked for a foul on Moult.
The hosts’ second half pressure finally paid off when sub Liam Boyce bundled the ball home after Gardyne’s initial shot had been saved by Samson.
’Well’s Marvin Johnson shot wide twice with separate efforts before Pearson wasted a chance to kill the game by shooting straight at Fox.
It was end to end stuff now and Boyce shot a great chance wildly over before County almost equalised in fortunate fashion when sub Brian Graham’s cross from the right looped wickedly under Samson’s bar but the keeper brilliantly tipped the ball over.
Richard Foster and Boyce wasted further chances to equalise before Motherwell killed the game off in injury time when Pearson headed home after Johnson’s initial shot had been parried by Fox.
The final whistle was met with cheers by the hardy souls in an away support of around 70 in the 2976 crowd.