RED-HOT Motherwell hitman Kevin Van Veen hit his second double in as many weeks as Stuart Kettlewell’s in-form Fir Parkers made short work of a lacklustre Livingston outfit.

A third from Max Johnston before the break had Motherwell in cruise control, and they coasted through the second half to bag another three points.

Here are the talking points from Lanarkshire…


For the second week in succession, the big Dutchman hit a brace to help his side to victory, terrorising opposing defenders with his mix of guile, grit and graft.

Last week against Hibs, he admitted after the game that he was feeling under the weather and lethargic. Here, he was nursing a thigh injury from a robust early challenge. Presumably he will be some player when he’s fit.

His first goal here was an emphatic finish at the end of a brilliant, sweeping move, though Livingston captain Nicky Devlin won’t want to see it back. He gifted the ball to Sean Goss in the middle of the park, who in turn found Mikael Mandron wide on the left. The forward quickly shuttled it inside to the galloping James Furlong, who got his head up to pick out the run of Van Veen into the area.

The striker took one touch to control, and with his second, he rifled the ball into the roof of Shamal George’s net before the keeper could even move.

George will be disappointed that he allowed Van Veen’s second to squirm home at his near post, mind you. The Motherwell man did his part by getting a low shot away on target, but the Livi keeper really should have kept it out.

That’s not Van Veen’s worry though, and the big man is playing with a confidence that suggests he hasn’t a care in the world.

He is now up to 22 goals in all competitions this season, with 18 of those coming in the Premiership, startling stats for a team who were struggling so badly for long spells of the campaign.

He was denied his hat-trick after a VAR check chalked off a late strike for offside, but that was the only mild disappointment on a hugely satisfying days’ work for Van Veen and his team.


For the second time in as many weeks, Livi went in at the interval three goals behind, and it was the manner of the goals they lost here that will be a huge concern for manager Martindale.

The first was the result of an individual error from Devlin, and George was culpable at the second, but it was the ease at which Motherwell were cutting his team open that will be setting alarm bells ringing at the Tony Macaroni.

For Van Veen’s first, it was a simple, clipped ball over the top from Johnston that had his teammate in on George, and just a minute later, a ball straight through the middle of the defence from Paul McGinn sent Blair Spittal scampering in on the keeper.

This time, he managed to save, but the ball broke for Johnston to sweep into the unguarded net to seal the points before the half-time interval. The goal was originally given as offside against Spittal in the build-up, but after a VAR check – and the somewhat curious quirk of the stadium announcer telling everyone what referee Grant Irvine’s decision was going to be a good 10 seconds before he signalled it himself – the goal was indeed given.

It was all too easy for the Steelmen, and the reputation that this Livingston side has for not giving away anything cheaply is evaporating rapidly over recent weeks.


Given where Motherwell were when Kettlewell picked them up, it is remarkable to think that they now have an outside squeak at making the top six after this latest win, their fifth from seven under his guidance with just the one defeat to Rangers along the way.

They are now just three points behind their vanquished foe here, and four behind Hibernian – who take on Dundee United at Tannadice on Sunday – with two games remaining until the split.

Ok, one of those matches is a visit to Celtic Park, and with the deficit already in place it is highly likely they will have to settle for comfortably playing out their season in the bottom half. But had you asked any Motherwell supporter if they would have settled for that a couple of months back, they would have bitten your hand off.

It has been a remarkable turnaround, and all credit to Kettlewell for it.