The final moments of this contest had been soundtracked by the beat of the Motherwell drum, rather than the racket raised by the sizeable Partick Thistle contingent earlier in an intriguing game, the hosts having hung on to stem a series of three defeats in all competitions and edge themselves into the upper half of the division.
They did so courtesy of John Sutton's first goal since his return to Fir Park but thanks also to a spirited defensive display that served as a fitting riposte to Stuart McCall's criticism of his players' set-piece defending. Motherwell held firm during a fraught finale, in which Thistle were unable to frank their dominance with clear goalscoring opportunities, a lack of composure or quality at the vital moments costing them their unbeaten record.
While vexed by that, manager Alan Archibald was galled, too, by the simple nature of the goal they conceded after an encouraging opening quarter. James McFadden and Henri Anier combined on the right, the latter burrowing towards the byeline before smuggling the ball to Zaine Francis-Angol a couple of yards inside the area. The youngster stunned the pass and swivelled in one movement, confusing a clutch of defenders, and drilled across for Sutton to guide past the exposed Scott Fox.
The effort added a spring to Sutton's hitherto leaden step. Balls speared in his direction were won with greater regularity, meaning that not only were Motherwell able to move the game into Thistle's half but that Anier was afforded scraps off which to feed. One volley forced a splendid save from Fox, a second strike was more comfortably fielded and a third skittered wide.
The Estonian was not the only one to threaten. McFadden went close three times within six second-half minutes, first rising to nudge a Simon Ramsden cross over the bar, then thrashing wildly at Sutton's cross eight yards out before lashing a 25-yard effort wide after a menacing midfield meander.
Keith Lasley then spurned perhaps the clearest opening, directing his shot at Fox after Anier's bobbling ball found him isolated in front of goal. "We needed a second goal," McCall said. "In the last 20 minutes they gave it a right good go but Lee [Hollis] had very few saves to make and we're delighted with the clean sheet especially."
For Thistle, it was a sobering afternoon. Archibald's side may have won just one of their three matches back in the top division, but their predilection for short, sharp passes has drawn plaudits. That approach had clearly caught McCall's eye, given Motherwell pressed doggedly, squeezing the space in which the Firhill midfielders like to play. Consequently, the visitors were unable to fashion a chance until the opening minutes of the second half; Isaac Osbourne wobbling an effort into Hollis' arms.
The introduction of Kallum Higginbotham made a difference, the Englishman who spent the back end of last term on loan at Fir Park posing problems from the left and drawing in defenders. Yet for all the time Thistle spent in and around the Motherwell penalty area during a fraught second half, Hollis was not called upon until John Baird scuffed a low effort straight at him in the closing minutes, a succession of earlier shots having scudded against defenders, advertising hoardings and seats in the stand.
The final incident, when Ross Forbes' pull-back was blocked by a prone Stephen McManus on the goalline, sparked protests from the Thistle players but their cries were in vain. "We worked hard this week on stopping them playing," said McCall. "And for the most part we did that."