Theo Bair scored for a fifth consecutive cinch Premiership game as Motherwell thrashed Ross County 5-0 at Fir Park.
The former St Johnstone forward put Motherwell three up with a 38th-minute penalty to make it six goals during his run and eight for the season.
Blair Spittal struck two brilliantly-taken goals and both Andy Halliday and Jack Vale hit their first Motherwell goals as the Steelmen recorded their biggest victory since beating the same opponents by the same scoreline under Steven Hammell in October 2022.
Despite claiming only a second win in 20 league games, Stuart Kettlewell’s side moved one point off the top six and opened up a six-point lead over second-bottom County.
Derek Adams’ side have not won since beating Motherwell two months ago and have only collected two points in that period.
Bair could easily have had a hat-trick as Motherwell took advantage of an open County structure which left their two centre-backs exposed.
Motherwell were ahead in the eighth minute when Spittal fed Bair to square for Halliday to sweep home from 12 yards.
The home side doubled their lead in the 21st minute when Spittal latched on to Halliday’s pass and curled a powerful shot in off the far post from the left corner of the box.
It initially looked like being a frustrating night for Bair, who was twice set up for one-on-ones by Spittal but was foiled by George Wickens each time.
The striker could not quite reach Spittal’s low cross and was then waiting for a tap-in when Harry Paton picked the wrong option.
Bair came closer when he chested down Stephen O’Donnell’s diagonal ball and volleyed into the top corner from 18 yards, only to be denied by the offside flag.
But the Canada international got his goal after Paton was tripped by Will Nightingale, assuming penalty duties from Spittal, who missed his last effort against Alloa. Bair shrugged off a needlessly-lengthy VAR delay to send Wickens the wrong way.
County had plenty of possession in the first half but Motherwell generally blocked their way to goal with some compact defending and effective pressing. Liam Kelly comfortably saved from Simon Murray in the visitors’ only effort on target before the break.
Motherwell looked comfortable after the restart without seriously threatening and Murray missed a glorious chance to give the visitors a lifeline midway through the second half when he sent a free header wide from six yards out.
The hosts otherwise looked the far more dangerous side. Bair was again played through by Spittal and appeared to have done everything right when he dinked the ball over Wickens but his effort drifted just wide.
Wickens saved well from Georgie Gent after slack play from James Brown but the goalkeeper was well beaten in the 87th minute when Spittal curled a majestic strike into the top corner from 25 yards.
The midfielder then played a perfect pass in between the County central defence for on-loan Blackburn forward Vale to run on to and slot home in stoppage-time.
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