Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson hailed Ross MacIver for seizing his chance after the 20-year-old struck a brilliant debut goal to help the Steelmen to a last-gasp victory over his former club Ross County.
Substitute MacIver curled into the top corner from 25 yards with nine minutes left against 10-man County to cancel out Blair Spittal’s first-half header.
And there was more drama to come as Declan Gallagher rose to head home Liam Polworth’s stoppage-time corner and seal a 2-1 win which kept Motherwell in third spot in the Ladbrokes Premiership.
Robinson said: “I thought we thoroughly deserved it, we had so many chances and probably should have put the game to bed in the first half and found ourselves behind after not tracking a runner.
“We showed a degree of patience, and when we needed that bit of quality, young Ross comes on. I am absolutely delighted for him, he has been great in training and done really well in the reserves.
“We are a club that throw boys in and he has certainly taken his chance.”
Attacker MacIver only made one substitute appearance before being released by County in the summer.
“People get released for reasons, maybe he wasn’t quite good enough at that time, maybe he wasn’t quite what they were after,” Robinson said.
“We needed that type of young striker that we thought we could develop, and he has.
“He has got the bit between his teeth, he has tried to pick strikers off and force his way into the team with a great attitude and he got a lot of rewards today.
“It’s a lesson for young players, if you get released it’s not necessarily the end of the world, and he has certainly shown a great attitude and appetite.”
County co-manager Stuart Kettlewell felt his team should have been awarded a goal kick instead of having to defend the crucial corner.
Kettlewell, who lost Lewis Spence to a last-man foul on Sherwin Seedorf in the 62nd minute, said: “I thought we were resolute, being down to 10 men we worked exceptionally hard and were still a threat going forward ourselves.
“The first goal is credit to Ross MacIver, it’s a fantastic finish. But the second goal is not a corner. Callum Morris is probably as honest a player as you are ever going to come across, and he has not touched the ball.
“It went for a corner, and yes we should have defended it better, but we probably shouldn’t have had to be defending it at that stage.
“It’s a really sore on to take, but there’s certainly no criticism that goes to our players after their level of performance.”
Kettlewell added: “I’ve probably not seen Ross score as good a goal as that.
“It’s testament to Ross, he’s a great lad. We felt competition for places was pretty high at the top end of the pitch in the area he plays in, but he got an opportunity and a fresh start which was probably very good for him.
“I worked with him personally for a number of years in our development squad, and he’s a great lad. It was no surprise to see him bounce back and find his feet in such a manner.”
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