Motherwell 2 – 1 Livingston

A brace from Kevin van Veen helped Motherwell narrowly win 2-1 over Livingston at Fir Park.

The Dutchman scored with an early free-kick, then took his double with a header midway through the second half leaving Graham Alexander’s men fourth in the Premiership standings ahead of the winter break.

Livingston recovered one late thanks to Bruce Anderson, but failed to find a draw and ended 2021 in eighth place.

Motherwell made two changes on the side that defeated St Johnstone. Out of Tony Watt and Dean Cornelius, replaced by Barry Maguire and Connor Shields.

Likewise Livingston changed two from the team he had drawn with Ross County. Jackson Longridge and Sean Kelly entered, with the disqualified Nicky Devlin and Jack McMillan retiring. Assistant manager Marvin Bartley was listed among the six substitutes.

Motherwell took the lead with their first real chance of the match after 13 minutes. Livingston’s Alan Forrest was found guilty of fouling Nathan McGinley on the edge of the box and Van Veen slipped the free-kick into the corner of the goalposts.

Andrew Shinnie tried to respond with a speculative effort after spotting Liam Kelly outside his area, but the keeper returned to block.

Sean Kelly enjoyed a more conventional shot on goal in Livingston’s next bout, but his brother Liam lived up to his effort.

Motherwell had another chance before half-time on another free-kick just outside the box. This time Sean Goss took it and his effort was garnered by Max Stryjek in Livingston’s lens.

The visitors also threatened once more before half-time, but Jason Holt’s shot flew high into the empty stand behind the goal.

The second half opened with another promising free-kick from Motherwell after Longridge was booked for handball. Van Veen resists again, but this time his shot is deflected for a corner which Sondre Solholm Johansen heads wide.

Goss then had a brilliant chance to increase Motherwell’s lead after being picked by Kaiyne Woolery, but hesitated and saw his shot blocked.

The former Rangers midfielder then had another chance to score not long after being prepared by Van Veen, but this time around Stryjek was good at saving with his legs.

A second goal was coming for Motherwell and it was Van Veen who provided it. Shields sent a cross from the left and the Dutchman got his head to overtake the goalkeeper.

Livingston recovered one at the end when Anderson deflected a James Penrice cross before Van Veen missed the hat-trick in the final moments only to be denied by Stryjek.

What’s next?

After the winter break, Motherwell travels to Ross County, while Livingston hosts Dundee, with both Scottish Premiership games starting at 7.45pm on Tuesday 18 January.

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