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Graham Alexander taking nothing for granted in race for Europe

Graham Alexander will not let Motherwell ease up (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Graham Alexander will not let Motherwell ease up (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander expects the race for European qualification to go to the last day of the cinch Premiership season.

Well moved into position for a spot in the Europa Conference League qualifiers when a 1–0 victory away at Ross County saw them leapfrog the Staggies into fifth place.

A first away win in seven months has transformed the outlook for Motherwell, who only secured a top-six place at the split with Ricky Lamie’s last-minute equaliser at Livingston but could seal a European spot on Wednesday if they beat Hearts and County fail to beat Rangers at Ibrox.

But Alexander said: “It is going to go to the last game. It was the same with the top six going into the last seconds – that could happen again but we will just give it our best shot.

“We did great to get into the top six and the opportunity is there for us, Dundee United and Ross County to get European football.”

Alexander admitted his side had not played as well in Dingwall as they had during a 1-0 defeat by United the previous weekend.

But Kevin van Veen came off the bench after struggling all week with illness to earn and score a 68th-minute penalty, and Well held out in the face of sustained pressure with the help of Liam Kelly’s expert save from Joseph Hungbo.

Alexander was delighted to reward a noisy band of travelling fans with a long-awaited win on the road.

“I heard the fans before the game and we mentioned it before – it was great to give them something back,” he said.

The turning point in Dingwall was when Van Veen got in front of Alex Iacovitti’s attempted clearance.

Both the Dutchman and Alexander were adamant it was a spot-kick, but County manager Malky Mackay was less certain from the angle he saw the incident from.

However, Mackay believes it should have been a moot point as the home side had plenty of chances to secure the points regardless, only to fail to make the most of any of them.

“I’m not going to say yes or no, because even the camera angle I’ve seen wasn’t good,” he said of the penalty decision.

“My boy says he has kicked the ball on to their player, and it’s a huge decision for the referee (David Munro).

“It’s not the first penalty he’s given against us this season, but I’ll have to see it again.

“I’m more interested that we did enough to go and win the game, and we brought it on ourselves because we had a lot of chances and a lot of possession, but we have to be better.”