Livingston 2 Motherwell 2: Steelmen clinch dramatic top six spot with stoppage-time frenzy

Motherwell will finish this season’s Scottish Premiership season in the top six after a dramatic 2-2 draw with Livingston at the Tony Macaroni Arena.

The Steelmen started slowly and Odin Bailey made them pay with an opening Livi goal inside 30 minutes, with this match the final one pre-split.

A poor first half from Graham Alexander’s side left them needing a goal and potentially favors from elsewhere.

Callum Slattery’s effort brought the Fir Park side back into the game but a Ross County goal against Aberdeen secured a Staggies win, eliminating Lanarkshire representation in the top half.

It looked like joy for David Martindale’s men but a last-ditch Ricki Lamie goal broke their hearts and booked Motherwell’s place in sixth spot, keeping their dreams of European football alive.

More sports news from across Lanarkshire

Manager Alexander made one enforced change from the 4-2 win over St Mirren last Saturday. Captain Stephen O’Donnell was injured and replaced by left-back Jake Carroll.

Sean Kelly replaced Stephane Omeonga in the Livi midfield while Odin Bailey started ahead of Sebastian Soto in two changes from a 1-0 loss against St Johnstone.

Both sides knew what was riding on this but it was Livingston who started the more aggressive in their press, albeit without creating many clear openings.

A bizarre opening almost came for Motherwell inside eight minutes, when home goalkeeper Max Stryjek botched a clearance off his own man, needing captain Nicky Devlin to safely head into his arms.

It wasn’t of their own making but it’s the closest the away side got to goal in 20 dull minutes. Forrest was causing plenty of problems for the home side and danced his way through the Steelmen, going close with his 18th minute effort.

A resulting corner left Ayo Obileye head in hands as he passed up two opportunities at close range to put Martindale’s men ahead.

An error from the former Queen of the South man in his natural centre-back position put Efford behind his side’s defense on 24 minutes, but Kevin Van Veen couldn’t make contact with a cutback.

Eventually Livingston’s dominance paid off as Motherwell were opened up too easily at the back. Forrest caused issues on the left again, slipping in Bailey, who dispatched past ‘Well goalkeeper Liam Kelly with ease.

It threw them out of the top six at that stage but heads had to remain calm, as another goal could put them back in the mix.

Yet it was their hosts who were applying attacking force, the Fir Park side struggling to string as much as two passes together in Livi’s half.

Forrest was at it again but this time his shot was blocked by defender Sondre Solholm, before his shot outside the box on 40 minutes was ruled offside as it hit the goal.

Efford was making himself the main away threat and almost turned one in from a corner with his back on 42, which the assistant referee bizarrely ruled as another Motherwell corner.

Half-time came and Hearts’ leveler against Hibs in the Edinburgh derby meant Alexander’s team were only outside the top six on goal difference, but they hadn’t looked like getting near Livi’s goal, never mind securing that crucial moment.

Stephen Kingsley completed the Jambos comeback elsewhere at the start of their second half and it put the claret and amber side into the top six, despite their one goal deficit and poor performance in West Lothian.

Kevin Van Veen’s effort in 50 minutes tried to wriggle some of Motherwell’s destiny back into their own hands but his effort nearly cleared the stadium, summing his side’s attacking endeavors.

His effort a few moments later very nearly ended up in the net. Connor Shields’ cross found the Dutchman and his shot of him looked to have squirmed over the line, but Stryjek clawed it out, somehow.

That miss proved costly as Bailey again got into a dangerous position, setting up Forrest for a comfortable finish on 58 minutes. At the same time, Hearts had gone 3-1 up as Andy Halliday notched a brace.

Somehow, despite staring down a run of one win in 13 league matches, Motherwell had a space in the top half but only if Aberdeen and Ross County continued to draw.

Livi should have been out of sight on 61 minutes after good combination play again by their two scorers, but Forrest couldn’t apply the finishing touch inside the box.

They could have had a penalty on 64 minutes as Efford sent Devlin tumbling in the box but referee Don Robertson said no.

Up the other end went Motherwell to half the deficit, Slattery’s thunderbolt going past Stryjek into the bottom corner on 70 minutes before he knew what was happening.

There was heartbreak to come for Alexander’s men as Joseph Hungbo scored a penalty to put Ross County ahead at Aberdeen, knocking them out the top six.

But in an incredible twist after 93 minutes, a corner into the box was met by Lamie, who placed the ball in a mad scramble into his former club’s net to knock Livingston out the top six with Motherwell taking their place.

Livingston XI: Stryjek, Devlin, Fitzwater, Obileye, Penrice (Lewis, 22), Holt, Kelly, Pittman, Bailey (Boyes, 76), Forrest (Shinnie, 76)k Nouble.

Subs: Konovalov, McMillan, Montano, Omeonga, Sibbald, Soto.

Motherwell XI: Kelly, Mugabi, Solholm, Lamie, Carroll (Tierney, 66), Cornelius (O’Hara, 45), Slattery, Goss, Shields, Efford (Woolery, 66), Van Veen.

Subs: Fox, Shaw, Hopefully, Amaluzor, Donnelly, Grimshaw.

Booked: Slattery, Van Veen

Referee: Don Robertson

All the latest sport news in Lanarkshire

Follow Lanarkshire Live Sport onTwitter via@LanLiveSport, like us onFacebookor find us onInstagramfor the latest sports news, pictures and video.

Related Posts

George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *