The battle to beat the drop took another intriguing twist on Saturday as a stunning late free-kick from Callum Slattery ensured Motherwell left Rugby Park with something to show for their exertions.

Scott Robinson opened the scoring when the Killie forward reacted quickest after Joe Wright’s header from a Danny Armstrong corner was initially repelled, making the most of the resulting stramash to turn the ball home.

Motherwell pressed hard for an equaliser and just as it looked as though the home side would see out the win, Slattery’s 30-yard strike ensured the visitors have picked up an impressive seven points out of the last available nine.

Here are three things we learned from a captivating contest in Ayrshire.

Robinson eases reliance on Armstrong

The Herald:

It’s no secret that Kilmarnock can be a little one-dimensional at times, especially from open play. Set-pieces are a particularly potent weapon in their arsenal and it was little surprise when Robinson broke the deadlock via a corner but it was the striker’s all-round play that caught the eye at Rugby Park.

Danny Armstrong, so often the hero for Killie this season, has regularly been the team’s only out-ball but the winger cannot do it all alone. Robinson’s tireless running and build-up play adds another edge to his side’s attack, although his final ball could be better – he wasted possession in promising areas a few times by looking for a cut-back when it simply wasn’t on.

More than anything else, Derek McInnes’ men need a goal scorer and Robinson might just be it. With Kyle Lafferty away, Kyle Vassell suspended and Christian Doidge still to find the net, Robinson’s second goal of the campaign was very timely indeed.

Slattery screamer bails Motherwell out

The Herald:


Back-to-back wins over St Mirren and Hearts were enough to convince the hierarchy at Fir Park to give Stuart Kettlewell the Motherwell gig on a permanent basis and while the team has benefitted from a new manager bounce, they laboured for large spells of the game here, particularly in the opening 45 minutes.

Jonathan Obika and Kevin van Veen have struck up an encouraging partnership in recent fixtures but the two forwards looked isolated in Ayrshire and both struggled to make a significant impact.

Sam Walker wasn’t called into action for the first time until he denied Obika in the 48th minute – a damning statistic for the Steelmen’s attackers – and although the Killie goalkeeper found himself tested with increasing frequency as the game wore on, Motherwell could have offered more going forward. A draw was probably a fair result on balance but they cannot rely on long-range free-kicks to bail them out every week.

Daylight between United and the rest

The Herald:

The last-gasp equaliser will have sent Killie supporters home feeling a little deflated but there is no need for fans to hit the panic stations just yet. McInnes’ side remain four points clear of Dundee United in twelfth having played an additional game, tied on 24 points with Ross County, while Motherwell have shown enough since Kettlewell took the reins to dampen fans’ fears about going down.

United look increasingly at risk of being cut adrift at the bottom. The Terrors have lost all five of their last five outings in the league but their relegation rivals – Motherwell, Killie and Ross County – are all showing signs of life.

Kilmarnock were unfortunate not to hold out for the win at Rugby Park but at the same time, Motherwell were probably good value for the point. One thing is for certain: both are far, far more functional than United. And so long as that remains the case, neither side should be massively concerned about the prospect of automatic relegation.