in #KillieStories May 17, 2017
Alan Cochrane @ Fir Park
A goal after only 45 seconds set Motherwell on their way to safety, and despite Kilmarnock equalising before half time, two second half goals ensured Premiership football at Fir Park next season. In truth, and perhaps understandably, Motherwell wanted it more.
Killie were set back on their heels inside the first minute when Elliot Frear pulled a corner back to the unmarked Carl McHugh, whose first time volley beat Jamie MacDonald and gave Motherwell the best start possible. The visitors quickly put that behind them though, and for the rest of the first 45 minutes, gave the Steelmen a torrid time. Jordan Jones on the left wing was particularly fruitful and created several good chances. A good run and cross had no takers, but a sweet move through Jones, Frizzell and Hawkshaw ended with a shot going over the bar.
After 17 minutes, Kilmarnock got their reward. A cross from the left was missed by Keith Lasley, and Adam Frizzell pounced to sweep the ball past Russell Griffiths and into the net. Jamie MacDonald had to make a great save by knocking a Louis Moult shot over the bar when the Motherwell striker should have scored, but most of the action was towards Russell Griffiths. Taylor, Frizzell, Jones and Hawkshaw all came close, with Hawkshaw’s final shot of the half touching the crossbar on the way over.
For the second half Motherwell regrouped, changed the system and the shape of their defence, and Kilmarnock were much less threatening. Disputed headers and fifty fifty balls now fell to the home side as they upped their game. Moult had a header go wide but in 52 minutes Motherwell took the lead. Referee Nick Walsh spotted a misdemeanour that others missed, and awarded a free kick on the left. Despite the narrow angle, substitute Lionel Ainsworth blasted the ball through the Kilmarnock defence, and inside Jamie MacDonald’s back post.
Killie pushed on to try to get on level terms, and Frizzell came close, but Motherwell were always dangerous.
With the visitors attacking, gaps started to appear at the back, and with 12 minutes left, Motherwell exploited one of them. A poor Jones pass was picked up in midfield and worked out to Louis Moult on the left wing. He passed inside to the unmarked Elliot Frear, who had the easiest of jobs to go round the keeper and ensure a home victory.
Lee McCulloch was disappointed at losing an early goal from a set play, again, but apart from that “in the first half we were brilliant, absolutely brilliant. In the second half, two set plays and a breakaway goal has cost us. In the second half we weren't as good, and didn't create any clear cut chances. Motherwell looked the team that wanted it more than us.”
Motherwell: Griffiths, Hammell, Heneghan, McHugh, Moult (Bowman), Cadden, Lasley, Frear, Clay, Ferguson (Ainsworth (Livingston)), McDonald
Kilmarnock: MacDonald, Smith, Dicker, Kiltie (McKenzie), Jones, Sammon, Ajer, Frizzell, Taylor, Hawkshaw (Roberts),Wilson (Graham)
Referee: Nick Walsh
Ross Mackenzie's match pictures: