Staggies fall to defeat at Motherwell

Alex Schalk missed a fine opportunity to equalise for Ross County.

Ross County were left to rue not making more of a dominant first-half as they fell to a 2-0 defeat against Motherwell at Fir Park.

Despite being in complete command of the opening 45 minutes, the Staggies were unable to find a breakthrough, allowing Motherwell to take the lead through Richard Tait shortly after the break.

Alex Schalk missed a fine chance to equalise moments later, with the Staggies hit for a second when Kenny van der Weg was sent off for bringing down Louis Moult inside the box, with Moult tucking away the penalty.

County made two changes from the side defeated 2-1 by Aberdeen the previous week, with Tim Chow and Jim O’Brien replacing Ross Draper and Christopher Routis.

Both sides had early glimpses, with Motherwell threatening when Louis Moult lifted a shot wide from the edge of the box, before at the other end Craig Curran saw a shot blocked from long-range.

The Staggies were dealt an early blow, with O’Brien limping off after just 14 minutes with what appeared to be a thigh strain, replaced by Routis.

Decent link up play between Curran and Alex Schalk set up a chance for the Dutchman moments later, but he drilled wide from the edge of the box.

The Staggies continued to apply the better pressure, with Routis seeing an acrobatic effort well held by goalkeeper Russell Griffiths, before Chow’s shot was blocked behind by Ben Heneghan.

Griffiths was forced into action again on 24 minutes, diving low to beat away Michael Gardyne’s shot, with the hosts struggling to deal with the Highlanders’ attacking movement.

County’s final chance before the end of the half came when Schalk saw his long-range shot comfortably held by Griffiths, but there was no breakthrough before the interval.

Motherwell looked lively at the start of the second-half, with Moult’s free-kick and Gael Bigirimana’s shot both well off target from long-range.

The home side took the lead on 53 minutes, when Chris Cadden’s ball in from the right evaded the Staggies defence before falling for Tait, who guided the ball past Scott Fox.

County missed a fine chance to level just four minutes later when Jason Naismith’s through ball released Schalk clean through on goal, however he struck over the ball from an excellent position 10 yards out.

The miss proved costly as the Steelmen added a second on 75 minutes. Bowman headed the ball into the path of Moult who was tugged to the ground by Kenny van der Weg, with referee Alan Muir given little option but to dismiss the Dutchman, with Moult stepping up to fire past Fox from the penalty spot and wrap up the points.