Partick Thistle 1-5 Motherwell

Motherwell go into 2014 sitting second in the Premiership after demolishing Partick Thistle at Firhill.

Steven Lawless shot the hosts ahead but Keith Lasley and Zaine Francis-Angol replied with neat finishes.

James McFadden added a cool lob before half-time to put the visitors in control of what had been a finely balanced high-tempo match.

And atrocious Thistle defending allowed Lionel Ainsworth and John Sutton to wrap up a comfortable victory.

The result nudges Motherwell's goal difference into positive figures and underlined the root of their success this term since they have won all 11 matches against teams in the bottom six of the league.

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Interview - Motherwell manager Stuart McCall

For Partick, the wait for a home success goes on and their run without a win stretches to eight games, with much of the damage self-inflicted after a promising start.

Such a one-sided score seemed unlikely as Thistle pinned the visitors back, with Kallum Higginbotham prominent on the left flank.

And the home side were rewarded when Stuart Bannigan, Kris Doolan and James Craigen combined to set up Lawless, who stroked a shot into the bottom corner of the net from 10 yards.

Lawless then hammered in a fierce shot that Dan Twardzik did well to push round his post, with Gabriel Piccolo heading narrowly wide from the resulting corner.

A set-piece presented McFadden with the chance to level but his stooping header from a corner was blocked by a grounded team-mate in a busy penalty box.

The Scotland international, recalled to the starting line-up, did play a major part in the equaliser as he jinked past a couple of opponents on the edge of the penalty area before slipping a pass to Lasley and the Steelmen's skipper tucked an angled strike past advancing keeper Scott Fox.

Twardzik made a good block at his near post as Higginbothan came haring in from the left and Motherwell immediately countered, with Iain Vigurs heading wide from a promising position.

Keith Lasley scores for Motherwell
Lasley's goal drew Motherwell level shortly after the hosts took an early lead

Playing wide left in a 3-4-3 formation Francis-Angol was menacing for the visitors and he got forward to great effect on 21 minutes, dashing into the penalty area to squeeze a low shot in at Fox's near post for his first Motherwell goal.

Doolan curled a long-range effort wide and Lawless was upended just inches from the penalty box as the hosts sought a response.

But it was the visitors who were to strike next as the home defence inexplicably stopped in their tracks and McFadden was able to profit from Piccolo's awkward fresh-air swipe to coolly lift the ball over Fox.

In the last action of a breathless first half Craigen got his head onto a Lawless cross only to nod over the top from eight yards.

After the interval, McFadden took aim with a clever, dipping strike on the angle that needed an excellent fingertip stop from Fox. Thistle substitute Ross Forbes then sent in a similar effort from further out, with Twardzik also saving well.

The home side were pushing men forward in determined fashion but they were again undone by a defensive lapse as Motherwell increased their lead on 57 minutes.

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Interview - Partick Thistle manager Alan Archibald

Lasley intercepted a stray pass from Aaron Taylor-Sinclair to drive forward and tee up Ainsworth, with the winger sliding in a composed finish.

McFadden headed against the crossbar but Motherwell did not have to wait long for goal number five.

There was yet more calamitous defending as Piccolo let a high ball bounce off him and into the path of Sutton and the substitute slammed in a sweet strike from 16 yards.

Doolan looked certain to grab a late consolation goal as he latched on to a poor pass-back from Simon Ramsden to poke the ball past Twardzik but the keeper did really well to get back to his feet and make a sliding tackle right in front of his empty net.

As It Stood

4Inverness CT18103526161033
5Dundee Utd1995535191632
6St Johnstone187472518725
8St Mirren185581928-920
10Partick Thistle183691532-1715
11Ross County1832131735-1811
View full Scottish Premiership table

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