Scottish Premiership
MotherwellMotherwell4Partick ThistlePartick Thistle3
By Colin MoffatBBC Scotland at Fir Park

Late headers from John Sutton and Stephen McManus earned a thrilling win for Motherwell against a Kallum Higginbotham-inspired Partick Thistle.

Higginbotham set up Chris Erskine for the opening goal and later converted a penalty and shot the visitors ahead with a sublime finish.

Keith Lasley levelled for 'Well before the break and Lionel Ainsworth cracked the home side into a 2-1 lead.

And, having slipped behind again, the home side rallied in a rousing finale.

Entering the 85th minute Motherwell were staring at defeat and their first dropped points against a team from the bottom half of the Premiership.

It was far from their best performance but Sutton and McManus embodied the sheer determination running through Stuart McCall's side, who remain within one point of second place, with a game in hand over Aberdeen.

Thistle, who stay in the relegation play-off spot, must have thought they were on course for a fifth league win of the season after Higginbotham had dragged them in front almost single-handedly but the visitors now find the gap to bottom team Hearts reduced to 16 points.

The Fir Park pitch was a bit worse for wear in patches after the heavy overnight rain that led to a lunchtime pitch inspection but Motherwell were moving the ball around confidently, if a little slowly, as Iain Vigurs swiped an early shot too high.

Zaine Francis-Angol was prominent throughout and good work from the left-back set up a shooting chance for James McFadden, which was blocked, with Lasley's deflected strike on the follow-up rippling against the side-netting.

The last time these teams met, Motherwell tore Thistle apart with a series of swift counter-attacks to score five, aided and abetted by some woeful defending.

Alan Archibald's men were understandably more cautious in the first half, packing men behind the ball.

It was therefore something of a surprise when the Jags went ahead thanks to a bustling run from Higginbotham.

The ball broke kindly for Erskine to tuck away despite keeper Gunnar Nielsen getting hands on the shot.

Shortly after, another enterprising break from Higginbotham teed up Prince Buaben only for Shaun Hutchinson to make a vital block.

Stung from their previous lethargy, Motherwell were level just before the interval when a Lasley strike looped off Higginbotham and spun into the far corner.

The Steelmen were much brighter in the opening minutes of the second half and the home fans were soon celebrating another goal as Ainsworth slammed in a precise shot after good work from McFadden.

Partick Thistle players celebrating
Higginbotham (far right) led Thistle's second-half revival but ultimately ended on the losing side

There were loud Thistle protests when an Aaron Taylor-Sinclair shot appeared to strike the arm of Stevie Hammell and a Buaben effort nearly squirmed under Nielsen at the home keeper's near post.

The visitors kept coming and Ainsworth's afternoon took a turn for the worse when he upended Taylor-Sinclair, with Higginbotham hammering the resultant spot-kick down the middle against his former club.

Higginbotham was suddenly unstoppable and drew a fine low save from Nielsen before driving into the box to set up Lyle Taylor, who was crowded out after taking an unnecessary touch.

The midfielder then decided to go it alone and finished off another direct run by planting a wonderful shot into the far corner of the net.

McFadden's deflected shot on the turn squeezed wide and Hutchinson's volley was tipped over by Paul Gallacher as Motherwell responded to going behind.

The late drama began in earnest when Sutton powered in a header from Ainsworth's delivery.

And three of the Fir Park stands erupted in joy as defender McManus joined the cavalry going forward and was in the right place to nod in a deep cross from Hammell.

Line-ups

Motherwell

  • 12Nielsen
  • 18CarswellBooked at 57mins
  • 3Hammell
  • 14LasleyBooked at 90mins
  • 5Hutchinson
  • 6McManus
  • 17Francis-Angol
  • 11VigursSubstituted forAnierat 77'minutes
  • 7McFadden
  • 9Sutton
  • 25AinsworthBooked at 65minsSubstituted forLawsonat 90'minutes

Substitutes

  • 8Lawson
  • 21Stewart
  • 23Murray
  • 24Anier
  • 26Leitch
  • 29Shirkie
  • 30Thomas

Partick Thistle

  • 12Gallacher
  • 16McMillan
  • 3Taylor-Sinclair
  • 8BanniganBooked at 82mins
  • 15Mair
  • 6BalatoniBooked at 56mins
  • 28ErskineSubstituted forElliottat 81'minutes
  • 10Buaben
  • 21TaylorSubstituted forDoolanat 78'minutes
  • 23HigginbothamSubstituted forCraigenat 84'minutes
  • 22Fraser

Substitutes

  • 1Fox
  • 2O'Donnell
  • 5Muirhead
  • 7Craigen
  • 9Doolan
  • 11Lawless
  • 14Elliott
Referee:
Stephen Finnie
Attendance:
5,048

Match Stats

Home TeamMotherwellAway TeamPartick Thistle
Possession
Home53%
Away47%
Shots
Home14
Away12
Shots on Target
Home5
Away5
Corners
Home7
Away5
Fouls
Home12
Away10

Live Text

  1. Post update

    Match ends, Motherwell 4, Partick Thistle 3.

  2. Full Time

    Second Half ends, Motherwell 4, Partick Thistle 3.

  3. Post update

    Attempt missed. Conrad Balatoni (Partick Thistle) header from the centre of the box is too high.

  4. Booking

    Keith Lasley (Motherwell) is shown the yellow card.

  5. Post update

    Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  6. Post update

    Foul by Keith Lasley (Motherwell).

  7. Post update

    James McFadden (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the defensive half.

  8. Post update

    Foul by Christie Elliott (Partick Thistle).

  9. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. Paul Lawson replaces Lionel Ainsworth.

  10. Goal!

    Goal! Motherwell 4, Partick Thistle 3. Stephen McManus (Motherwell) header from the centre of the box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Steven Hammell with a cross.

  11. Post update

    John Sutton (Motherwell) wins a free kick on the right wing.

  12. Post update

    Foul by Aaron Taylor-Sinclair (Partick Thistle).

  13. Goal!

    Goal! Motherwell 3, Partick Thistle 3. John Sutton (Motherwell) header from very close range to the bottom left corner. Assisted by Lionel Ainsworth.

  14. Substitution

    Substitution, Partick Thistle. James Craigen replaces Kallum Higginbotham.

  15. Booking

    Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle) is shown the yellow card.

  16. Post update

    Henri Anier (Motherwell) wins a free kick in the attacking half.

  17. Post update

    Foul by Stuart Bannigan (Partick Thistle).

  18. Substitution

    Substitution, Partick Thistle. Christie Elliott replaces Chris Erskine.

  19. Substitution

    Substitution, Partick Thistle. Kris Doolan replaces Lyle Taylor.

  20. Substitution

    Substitution, Motherwell. Henri Anier replaces Iain Vigurs.