Soccer

Motherwell fight back for share of spoils in six-goal thriller with Ross County

The spoils were shared after a 3-3 draw at Fir Park (Steve Welsh/PA)
The spoils were shared after a 3-3 draw at Fir Park (Steve Welsh/PA) The spoils were shared after a 3-3 draw at Fir Park (Steve Welsh/PA)

Motherwell produced a remarkable late fightback to earn a 3-3 cinch Premiership draw against Ross County at Fir Park.

The Steelmen trailed 3-1 with two minutes remaining but would level matters thanks to goals from Conor Wilkinson and Luca Ross.

After an uneventful first half, the game would spring into life as goals from Eamonn Brophy and Simon Murray had County in command.

Mika Biereth came off the bench to reduce the deficit for the home side, though any hopes of an unlikely comeback seemed to have disappeared when Victor Loturi added a third after 83 minutes.

With two minutes left on the clock, Wilkinson restored some hope for Motherwell following a good finish and Ross would scramble home in the fifth minute of added time to send Fir Park wild.

All three Well goals were scored by substitutes and a draw keeps them in sixth place, while County remain in 11th, though the away side have extended their advantage over bottom side St Johnstone to five points.

Boss Stuart Kettlewell handed former County striker Oli Shaw his first start as Motherwell returned to action for the first time in three weeks.

The visitors made three changes to the team that drew 0-0 with Dundee in midweek, with Brophy, George Harmon and Dylan Smith all given starting roles.

Brophy came agonisingly close to putting the Staggies ahead on six minutes when he narrowly missed Connor Randall’s cross.

They would have another good opportunity just minutes later as Yan Dhanda picked out Jack Baldwin, who headed the ball across goal to Ryan Leak who glanced it past the post.

It was all one-way traffic towards the Motherwell goal and it required a crucial deflection from Bevis Mugabi to divert Randall’s shot behind for a corner.

It took until the 23rd minute for the hosts to create their first chance and County had the woodwork to thank as Brodie Spencer nodded Stephen O’Donnell’s cross onto the post.

Dan Casey should have done better when he rose the highest to meet Callum Slattery’s corner, though he would fail to find the target.

Just before the half-hour mark, referee Graham Grainger consulted VAR over a potential penalty after Blair Spittal hit the deck under the challenge of Dhanda, however, play was waved on following a quick check.

It was becoming a busy afternoon for the VAR officials and they would deny two further penalties, one at either end as half-time approached.

Spittal saw his shot deflected behind as Motherwell made a bright start to the second half and there was then yet another brief stoppage as VAR concluded that the ball did not strike the hand of Kyle Turner.

County had created little of note following their strong start, though they almost broke the deadlock when Scott Allardice’s effort from distance drifted narrowly wide.

A defensive lapse by O’Donnell would almost prove costly for the Steelmen after 62 minutes, the ball broke to Turner and his shot fell the way of Murray, who was denied by the legs of Liam Kelly.

The momentum was back with Malky Mackay’s side and they took the lead after 65 minutes. Brophy picked up Turner’s pass and curled a superb shot beyond the Motherwell goalkeeper.

Things got even better for County eight minutes later when Murray burst past Harry Paton before driving the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.

Kettlewell introduced Biereth and Georgie Gent immediately after his team conceded a second goal and it was a move that paid off almost instantly.

When Biereth was bundled over by Ross Laidlaw, the referee made no hesitation in pointing to the spot and the on-loan striker stepped up to coolly send the goalkeeper the wrong way with the resulting penalty kick.

Hopes of a Motherwell comeback were to be short lived however, as County struck again after 83 minutes. Dominic Samuel played in Loturi, who tucked home the rebound after being initially denied by a good stop from Kelly.

To their credit, the home side continued to try find a way back into the match and they would reduce the deficit again with two minutes left, Biereth slid the ball through to Wilkinson who showed good composure to drill past Laidlaw.

Seven minutes of added time brought renewed hope for the home supporters and a remarkable fightback was completed when 17-year-old Ross bundled the ball over the line to spark wild celebration among the home supporters.