With their fate in their own hands, Ross County couldn’t have started in a worse fashion against Motherwell at Fir Park.
A typically soft goal conceded after seven minutes was compounded by Kilmarnock scoring against Hamilton a minute later. All of the ducks were lined up in a row for the Ayrshire club to stay up at the expense of the Staggies.
County found it tough against a solid shape from Motherwell.
The Steelmen showed flurries of activity in the match, but once ahead played at their own pace.
All three of County’s midfielders didn’t do anywhere near enough to show for the ball to play through the pitch, while Jordan White could only do so much with the long balls shelled at him.
It was a very poor first-half performance, and County faced the relegation play-offs.
Thankfully the second half was a different story, when the Staggies’ most experienced stalwarts came up with the goods, inspired by a superb equalising goal by Iain Vigurs.
County’s captain showed some passing and movement to puncture Motherwell’s midfield and his shaped finish into the top corner was a moment of great quality.
The goal gave County confidence to play much higher up the pitch and they eventually got a deserved second, with White using his presence to lay off Michael Gardyne with a great pass for the veteran to tuck away.
County’s win consigned Kilmarnock to the play-offs.
Job done for Hughes and the squad. County were in a sorry state at the end of December, but showed lots of character with moments of quality to win when it counted.
With so many players out of contract, there will be lots of change again at the club this summer, but County have earned the right to a fresh start in the Premiership next season.