Ross County fell to defeat on Boxing Day after leading Motherwell for the majority of a tight game at the Global Energy Stadium. After Blair Spittal’s opening goal, a stunning strike from Ross MacIver and a late header from Declan Gallagher took the points back down the A9.
County had the opening chance of the match. The ball coming to Billy McKay at the back post and his cut back was met by Blair Spittal who flashed his shot over the bar. Motherwell reacted instantly and James Scott cut past Morris and Fontaine but he dragged his effort across goal past the post wide.
Lewis Spence was robbed of the ball on the half way line and Liam Polworth tore away towards goal slipping in James Scott on the left hand side of goal. Scotts effort well held by Nathan Baxter whose distribution would see the Staggies go on a counterattack. A cross ball found Blair Spittal who, at the back post, was left unmarked, but he couldn’t convert his chance on target as the volley went sailing over.
Richard Foster then sent in a terrific cross which Billy McKay attempted to head in the centre of the box. The striker missing it but a follow up cross on the left from Sean Kelly found the head of the unmarked Blair Spittal 15 yards from goal who headed for the back post and beat Gillespie to put the home side in the lead.
Liam Polworth would have the best opportunity to draw the visitors level just moments before the break. He was slipped in with only the keeper to beat but dragged his effort across goal and beyond the post leaving the visitors frustrated in a trailing position at the break.
The Staggies had a great opportunity to grab a 2-0 lead just before the hour. Billy McKay closed down Peter Hartley, winning the ball back 40 yards from goal. Spotting goalkeeper Gillespie off his line, McKay took aim but without any real power behind the strike, Gillespie managed to get back in to position and gather the ball.
Ross County would then be reduce to 10 men. A cross field ball found Sherwin Seedorf who, through on goal, was hauled down by the already booked Lewis Spence. Without brandishing the second yellow the referee handed Spence a straight red card and ordered off the midfielder.
Liam Polworth thought he had pulled the visitors level with 20 minutes remaining on the clock. His freekick flashed across goal but a goal line clearance denied the former Inverness midfielder of giving Motherwell the gateway back in to the match they were looking for. Brian Graham then found himself in a promising position 20 yards from goal but his effort didn’t get the effect it intended and shot wide of Gillespie’s left hand post.
With the Staggies showing no signs of being a man down they were dealt a real sucker punch with 15 minutes to go. Only on the pitch for 3 minutes and former Staggie and Motherwell Substitute Ross MacIver let fly from fully 30 yards send the ball darting in to Nathan Baxter’s top right hand corner and drawing the visitors level.
Josh Mullin would have the best chance of the closing exchanges for County. He was found on the edge of the box in acres of space but when pulling the trigger failed to get good enough contact and the ball went wide.
With the match looking like it was heading for a draw, County would lose the match in the cruellest fashion. A cross ball which went past goal was judged to have been touched by Callum Morris leading to a Motherwell corner. Declan Gallagher rose highest at the back post and nodded the ball home from close range taking all 3 points back down the A9.
The Staggies now travel to Perth to take on St Johnstone on Sunday before the Winter break kicks in.