Stuart Kettlewell has urged his Motherwell players to draw a line under their Viaplay Cup exit after the Steelmen bowed out at the last 16 with a 1-0 defeat away to St Mirren.

The Lanarkshire outfit got off to a slow start in Paisley and struggled to take the game to their opponents until the contest’s closing stages, by which point it was already too late to turn the tie in their favour.

The ’Well manager wants to see his players being braver on the ball and hopes that the defeat will not undo the promising work that has been done at Fir Park since he replaced Steven Hammell as boss earlier this year.

“I didn’t think there was going to be a great deal between the teams and I thought it would probably go a goal either way,” he said. “My frustration, and we spoke about it at half-time, was that backwards step that we were taking at some points.

“We were untidy for the goal and it’s a wonderful strike, but it should never get to that area of the park. I felt that spooked us a bit and we took that backwards step. That’s not been us, in terms of being fearful of making a mistake or being fearful of being aggressive out of possession.

“I thought we rectified that a bit in the second half but if I’m being honest I would expect more. I think we have shown more over the past few months.

“We will lick our wounds and get ready to go again. I told the players we can’t let it derail what has been a fantastic run.”

Motherwell struggled to fashion first-half opportunities but had a penalty appeal waved away when Mikael Mandron had potentially handled the ball, despite the protests of Dan Casey.

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With no VAR in place for the game, Kettlewell also felt referee Willie Collum missed a clear red card for Charles Dunne after the former Motherwell defender fouled on-loan Arsenal striker Mika Biereth and received a yellow in stoppage time.

"I don't want to sit here as a guy who continually makes excuses, but there are two massive decisions in the game," the Motherwell boss added.

"One is a stonewall penalty in the first half, Mikael Mandron handballs it. I'm always a huge believer in a player's reaction - he [Casey] knows it has come off the hand, that his hand is outstretched, which is everything that the video shows.

"But I'm more upset with the challenge in the second half from Charles Dunne on Mika Biereth, it's an absolutely horrendous tackle, two-footed and straight-legged.

"I've now got a striker sitting on the treatment bed down there.

"I was instructed that these types of tackle were outlawed in the game. It's an absolute shocker, red card all day long - but the excuse is that they don't have VAR.

"I'm counting the cost. I'm really angered by the tackle that comes onto a striker, which by the way, as a young lad that we have on loan from Arsenal, we talk about protecting these creative players and all the rest of it, but I think that's just words sometimes. We have to do more to try and protect them, because it's a bad, bad tackle.

"He's struggling to put weight on it and that would generally tell you this is going to get worse through time.

"The one thing I know now is that he's struggling and has a fair bit of pain on the inside of his knee, so we're going to have to strip it back and find out how bad it is."