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Graham Alexander discovers honesty is the best policy with his Motherwell men

Celtic v Motherwell – Scottish Premiership – Celtic Park
(Image credit: Jane Barlow)

Motherwell manager Graham Alexander feels that trusting his players to navigate their way through games is paying off.

The Steelmen ground out a 2-1 win over Ross County on Saturday to consolidate their place in the upper reaches of the cinch Premiership.

County dominated possession and had the bulk of the chances but goals at either end of the game from Callum Slattery and Tony Watt stretched Well’s unbeaten league run to six matches and left them two points off leaders Rangers.

Motherwell have developed a winning mentality under Alexander, often emerging from difficult games with points and wins that at times did not seem likely.

The former Scunthorpe and Salford boss feels giving his players responsibility is paying off.

“I think we are honest with them,” Alexander said. “We are an honest group together, we never hide away from the facts. But we trust the players.

“We work exceptionally hard during the week and turn the match day over to them. And generally we want to trust them with the performances. We don’t go overboard managing them on a match day.

“I think they respond to that trust and show that winning mentality. We go in with a message of trying to win every single game we play, regardless of the opponent.

“But I knew this was going to be tough, I thought it was going to be our toughest fixture so far this season, and it proved to be that way because of all the factors around it.

“I am delighted we have ground out another win and kept this run going.

“There are things we need to improve on, as always, but the heart, spirit and determination of the group shone through, and we were backed by a brilliant support. That was flowing down from the stands and helped us win a really important game of football.”

County remain without a league win but manager Malky Mackay again took encouragement from the display.

“I look at performances,” he said. “In the first six games we have played the top six and created chances against them all.

“We had nine counter-attacks against Celtic – we should have scored. In every game we have scored or should have scored. I would be struggling if we were playing well and not creating chances but we are creating a hell of a lot.

“I’m very proud of the way they played. They really took the game to Motherwell. Coming to a tough game, a team that are flying high, and playing like that, we will be OK.”

County’s goalscorer, Regan Charles-Cook, did not appear after half-time but his replacement hit the bar and looked a real threat.

“Regan had a tightness in his hamstring which was getting tighter by the minute,” Mackay said. “We have to be careful with him for his longer-term use as I thought he was terrific in the first half.

“But credit to Joe Hungbo, a 20-year-old who’s come in from Watford, who was an absolute livewire. He could have scored a hat-trick and caused their left-back a lot of problems.”