Livi couldn’t end their long-standing poor record at Fir Park as they suffered defeat in a tightly fought encounter.
The hosts created the first real opportunity in a game which lacked many talking points and chances. Sean Goss’ deep free-kick found Ricki Lamie unmarked at the back post, but the former Livingston defender headed wide of the target from close range.
Blair Spittal was next to try his luck for the hosts. The midfielder’s left footed shot from the edge of the box didn’t trouble Shamal George though.
A well-worked free-kick routine on the right wing ended with a Spittal cross into the box. Kevin van Veen was the target but Nicky Devlin did enough to thwart the attempt flick towards goal.
After a fairly drab first half, with no shots on target from both sides, the second 45 could only get better. Van Veen was beginning to grow into the game, and the Dutchman caused some issues for the Livingston defence. The striker cut inside from the right and fired towards goal, but his effort deflected wide.
Stephen O’Donnell was next to try his luck, yet Motherwell still couldn’t find the target or force George into a save. The full back, playing on the left of the defence, cut inside onto his favoured right foot but his speculative strike from distance was always rising! Joe Efford then saw his shot deflected wide for a corner.
Despite a lot of strikes at goal from innocuous areas of the park, Motherwell had failed to trouble the Livingston goalkeeper and back line for the majority of the match. However, they would be presented with a golden opportunity on 68 minutes.
Spittal’s corner was met by Goss at the far post, and blocked by the chest of Andrew Shinnie as the ball went behind for a corner – or so we thought. Referee Nick Walsh took some time, and with support from his assistant decided to award Motherwell a penalty for handball despite Shinnie and his teammates pleading that it was another part of the body – his chest.
The hosts took full advantage of the controversial decision, and up stepped van Veen who made no mistake from the spot kick to put his side 1-0 in front.
Things went from bad to worse for the Lions who had Dylan Bahamboula sent off shortly after going behind. The winger, on as a substitute, had been booked for a cynical pull back as Motherwell had tried to counter, and was shown a second yellow card for a high boot on Sean Goss.
Despite being a man down, Livi did create the next opportunity. Isma Goncalves was found by Cristian Montaño, and the striker’s speculative half volley sailed narrowly over Liam Kelly’s crossbar.
With Livi committing bodies forward, Stevie Hammell’s side had a glorious chance on the break but couldn’t pick the right pass or apply a finish with a mix of van Veen, Efford and Goss all squirming the chance.
It wouldn’t matter though as the hosts would finish with all three points, condemning Livingston to another defeat at Fir Park.
Match Report: Calum Brown
Motherwell: Kelly, McGinn, Solholm , Lamie, O’Donnell©️, Slattery, Goss, Cornelius (Morris ▊54), Shields (Efford 54), Van Veen, Spittal (Maguire 83)
Subs not used: Oxborough, McKinstry, Mugabi, Johnston, Tierney, Mahon
Goals: Van Veen (68 pen)
Livingston: George, Devlin©️, Fitzwater, Obileye, Montaño, Holt (Mullin 81), Omeonga, Kelly (Bahamboula ▊▊ 65), Shinnie (Gonçalves 69), Pittman, Nouble
Subs not used: Konovalov, Longridge, Penrice, Brandon, Bitsindou, Cancar
Referee: Nick Walsh