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Resurgent Ross County beat Motherwell to pile pressure on boss Stuart Kettlewell

Stuart Kettlewell’s Motherwell have gone 12 games without a win (Steve Welsh/PA)
Stuart Kettlewell’s Motherwell have gone 12 games without a win (Steve Welsh/PA)

Derek Adams continued an impressive start to his third Ross County reign as a 3-0 victory over Motherwell left his former player Stuart Kettlewell under increasing pressure.

County have now taken seven points from three games without conceding a goal since Adams returned from Morecambe to replace Malky Mackay.

Former County player and manager Kettlewell has seen his extended honeymoon period in charge at Fir Park thoroughly collapse. Well have now gone 12 cinch Premiership games without a win and taken just four points in that run, which hit a new low in Dingwall.

The Steelmen conceded the opening goal for the 11th time in those 12 games when Simon Murray headed home from a second-minute corner.

They had an even bigger task facing them inside 18 minutes when Yan Dhanda curled home an excellent finish from 22 yards.

Ben Purrington netted from the rebound in the second half to round off County’s first win over their visitors in seven attempts.

County were unchanged from last Tuesday’s win over St Mirren while Kettlewell had Callum Slattery back from suspension and also brought in Theo Bair and Conor Wilkinson, the latter starting in an advanced midfield role.

The Staggies took the lead when Murray met James Brown’s inswinging delivery at the near post and glanced home his 11th goal of the season. Blair Spittal claimed he had been pushed from behind by Murray, but there was a relatively short delay before the game restarted.

It was the seventh time in as many games that a corner had directly or indirectly led to a goal against Motherwell.

Well initially threatened a comeback. Bair came close from 20 yards and Ross Laidlaw made a good double stop from Slattery and Stephen O’Donnell.

But County doubled their lead when Dhanda collected the ball, drifted inside of Wilkinson and had time to whip the ball inside far post.

It could have got worse for the visitors before half-time. Murray saw a shot deflected off the post from 20 yards and headed just over from another corner. A slick passing move then cut Mothewell open but Connor Randall shot straight at Liam Kelly.

Kettlewell made three substitutions at the break as Georgie Gent, Davor Zdravkovski and Calum Butcher came on.

But it was too easy for the hosts as they went further ahead in the 56th minute. Dhanda crossed after a good passing interchange, Jordan White’s free header was only parried by Kelly and Purrington was free to knock home the rebound.

The flag went up for offside, but it looked a straightforward decision to overturn in the VAR centre.

Motherwell showed some signs of a response. Gent had a header tipped over and Mika Biereth flicked a good chance wide before seeing an effort cleared off the line by Jack Baldwin.

But the hosts could also have added to their lead with Victor Loturi and Simon Murray coming close.

The only down side for County was a stoppage-time red card for Will Nightingale, who received two quickfire yellow cards.

Motherwell’s misery was compounded by a serious injury in stoppage time for defender Dan Casey, who was carried off the pitch on a stretcher after his team-mates had gone down the tunnel.