Motherwell striker Kevin van Veen continued his incredible goalscoring streak but had to wait until the ninth minute of stoppage time to net a penalty winner which left Ross County in the Premiership danger zone.
Van Veen struck in his ninth consecutive match to earn Motherwell a 1-0 victory as 10-man County fell foul of two VAR decisions.
The visitors had a penalty award rescinded just after the interval before conceding a spot-kick for handball following VAR intervention as they battled on without substitute Owura Edwards following his red card at the start of 15 minutes of stoppage time.
County had been set to move above Kilmarnock on goal difference until Van Veen hit his 27th goal of the season but they had the consolation of bottom club Dundee United and Killie both losing.
Motherwell dominated possession and were the more threatening side in front of goal and their win kept them in seventh place.
Well defender Paul McGinn twice forced first-half saves after breaking forward from the back three and County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw pulled off a good stop from Dan Casey’s well-struck volley.
Van Veen forced a save from a tight angle following his first chance to run at the County defence and had a shot blocked later in the half after a good turn.
County got men forward when they were in possession but the only time they really threatened before the break was when Alex Samuel shot just wide after making space for himself on the edge of the box.
County were awarded a penalty early in the second half following Calum Butcher’s challenge on Connor Randall, but referee Euan Anderson reversed the decision after being called to the monitor by video assistant Willie Collum, who spotted the defender playing the ball.
Both sides lost players to injury – Harry Paton, James Furlong and Casey for Motherwell and Alex Iacovitti for the visitors – and the game became more stretched in between the stoppages.
Mikael Mandron and Butcher threatened for Motherwell, who were getting chances to counter-attack, but Dean Cornelius and Blair Spittal could not deliver the final passes needed.
Van Veen nearly set up substitute Jonathan Obika with a brilliant cross only for Keith Watson to rescue County with a last-ditch tackle.
The Dutchman twice fired wide with his left foot after getting in behind and Sean Goss was just wide after getting space to shoot from 22 yards.
Edwards came on in the 77th minute, was booked in the 85th minute for a foul on Goss, could have received another yellow card for pulling Stephen O’Donnell and did get his next booking for a late challenge on Cornelius. It was the forward’s third red card of the season.
The penalty came following a strong appeal for handball from Obika as he tried to knock the ball past several County defenders with Watson the apparent culprit. Van Veen sent Laidlaw the wrong way after the VAR review.
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country