Motherwell 2-1 Kilmarnock

By Clive LindsayBBC Sport

Clinical Motherwell came from behind to consign Kilmarnock to their third consecutive defeat.

The visitors made a promising start when Darren Barr's header deflected in off defender Stephen McManus.

But, three minutes later, Henri Anier levelled by firing through the legs of goalkeeper Craig Samson.

John Sutton pounced at the back post to fire Motherwell ahead before the break and they survived late pressure despite Simon Ramsden's 86th-minute red card.

It leaves Allan Johnston's side without a victory this season as Motherwell move into third place in the Scottish Premiership.

John Sutton celebrates his goal
Sutton put Motherwell ahead before half-time against Kilmarnock at Fir Park

Iain Vigurs had returned to the home midfield in place of Zaine Francis-Angol and should have put his side ahead when put clear on goal within 15 seconds.

However, the summer signing from Ross County poked his effort wide from 15 yards under pressure from the recovering rearguard.

Kilmarnock were back to more familiar lines after a much-changed line-up suffered a shock midweek League Cup defeat by Championship outfit Hamilton Academical.

Paul Heffernan, though, was absent from the squad after his Friday switch to Hibernian, Johnston explaining that the striker had not felt he could form a partnership with Kris Boyd.

Boyd, returning from suspension, had William Gross for company and the Frenchman was quickly involved, firing one shot wide and another that just eluded the Scottish Premier League's record scorer as it powered across the face of goal.

Barr, the summer arrival from Hearts, was to quickly become a hero at both ends of Fir Park as he first denied Anier with a superb last-ditch challenge in front of goal then himself opened the scoring.

Barry Nicholson sent a free-kick curling towards the Motherwell goal and, when it flicked off Barr's head, it took a deflection off defender McManus before nestling in the far corner of the net.

The lead only lasted three minutes, with a superbly disguised reverse pass from Keith Lasley releasing Anier behind the defence and the Estonian striker calmly slotted the equaliser.

Goal-provider Nicholson had the chance to become goalscorer after ghosting into space to pick up a fine James Fowler pass but powered his first-time shot straight at goalkeeper Lee Hollis from 15 yards.

Motherwell, though, just about edged the first half in terms of possession and Samson had to beat away drives from Vigurs and Sutton.

The home side moved in front when on-loan Celtic defender Jackson Irvine found fresh air as he attempted to clear Ramsden's cross across the face of goal and Sutton was on hand to score at the back post.

Sutton and Ramsden combined again immediately after the break and Samson produced a point-blank goal-line save to deny the striker heading his second goal.

The introduction of Friday signing from Dundee United Michael Gardyne enlivened the Kilmarnock front line and drives from Boyd twice fell just wide of the post.

Vigurs forced Samson to tip his long-range effort over the crossbar and Stuart McCall's side were provided with a nervous ending as Hollis had three goal-line saves as the ball bobbled about the Well penalty box after Ramsden picked up a second yellow card for a foul on substitute Rabiu Ibrahim.