Feb 27 2013 By Andrew Weston
Just a week after Motherwell produced arguably their best performance of the season defeating Inverness 3-0 they produced what was surely their worst of the season against Caley’s Highland neighbours Ross County in Dingwall on Saturday.
Ivan Sproule’s first half effort followed by second half goals from Richard Brittain and Iain Vigurs completed a richly deserved victory for County that throws the SPL top six race wide open.
For a long time now the talk amongst Steelmen fans has been whether they can finish best of the rest in second place this term.
However consecutive defeats to Dundee United last Tuesday at Fir Park and Ross County at Victoria Park has made them revise the targets.
First things first, Motherwell have to hang on to a place in the top six before aiming for the financially coveted second place.
Four points separate Dundee United in ninth place and Inverness who are joint second with Ross County in second. Motherwell now sit fourth, three points ahead of the Terrors.
Just six games remain before the split for Motherwell and it’s fair to say it's now 'squeaky bum time.’
The next three games on paper seem as tough as you could imagine for the Well.
Celtic lie in wait tonight at Fir Park followed by trips to Hearts and Aberdeen.
It’s not inconceivable to see Motherwell dropping out the top six by the time they face Hibernian on March 15.
But in the face of adversity Motherwell have developed a great knack of bouncing back at just the right time over the past few seasons and whose to say the wont be back in second place before Hibs visit.
Celtic may have virtually wrapped up the SPL title and Dundee may seem certainties for the drop but no one can deny a fascinating end to the campaign lies in wait.
This is not a time to be hitting a bad run of form and if Celtic put one over Motherwell this evening it will be four defeats in five.
Stuart McCall rarely has a pop at his players but for probably the first time in his near two years in charge the Motherwell gaffer questioned his teams ‘desire’ and ‘stomach’ for the fight after Saturday’s match.
He also stated again that “it’s not all about James (McFadden),” who recently re-signed for the club and one hopes the return of the prodigal son will not become an unwelcome distraction for a squad renowned for its close knit camaraderie.
It’s hard to imagine Motherwell producing a performance like at Ross County again this season and it may be the kick up the backside they need going into a pivotal period of the season.
Fans will be desperately hoping McFadden’s fitness gets up to speed sooner rather than later as it may need a bit of magic from the Fir Park icon to secure a top six place.
If and when they achieve that prime objective, all eyes can be on securing European football and then a top two finish which would be a great achievement for this threadbare squad.