Motherwell striker Van Veen proves the scourge of Ross County once again
Kevin van Veen continued his Dingwall goalscoring spree to earn Motherwell a 2-0 win over 10-man Ross County.
Van Veen headed home four minutes after Jack Baldwin had been sent off following a VAR review after bringing down the Motherwell striker.
The Dutchman netted his 17th goal of the season in the 88th minute to make it six in his last three visits to the Highlands.
Van Veen scored a hat-trick on his previous trip to the Global Energy Stadium and also hit the winner last season in a game which put Motherwell in pole position for a European spot with two games remaining.
This victory could be equally important as Motherwell moved six points clear of County and any relegation danger as former County boss Stuart Kettlewell continued his flying start to life in charge of the Steelmen.
The hosts had the better of the play before the 70th-minute red card but Kettlewell, who was sacked by County six days before Christmas 2020, is now on 10 points from his first four matches.
Callum Slattery was recalled to the Motherwell team following his spectacular late equaliser at Kilmarnock in the only change to either starting line-up.
The home side had the better of the first-half territory and Liam Kelly was the busier of the two goalkeepers, but Motherwell had chances too.
Kelly saved three times from the lively Eamonn Brophy and also denied George Harmon and Yan Dhanda.
Jonathan Obika missed two decent first-half chances for the visitors. He misdirected a free header from Blair Spittal’s cross but was possibly put off by a defender getting a flick. The striker later swept Max Johnston’s bouncing cross just over the bar.
The closest the visitors came before the break was when Van Veen turned and shot and forced Ross Laidlaw to scramble. Johnston whipped the rebound just out of reach of Slattery.
Motherwell defender Calum Butcher escaped penalty appeals either side of the break, first for a challenge on Victor Loturi that was checked by video assistant referee Kevin Clancy.
Don Robertson initially gave a spot-kick and booked Butcher just after the interval when the defender appeared to pull Alex Iacovitti’s shirt, but the referee reversed the decision after being called to his monitor.
Robertson had another big decision when Baldwin brought down Van Veen as the striker ran beyond the home defence on to a hopeful ball forward. The referee presumably ruled Van Veen was too wide to be bearing down on goal and booked the County captain but was called to his monitor and issued the red. Winger Gwion Edwards was sacrificed for defender Keith Watson.
County midfielder Nohan Kenneh flashed a shot wide but Motherwell soon took the lead.
Substitute Dean Cornelius slipped the ball in front of Spittal who crossed from the byline for Van Veen to nod home from six yards.
County had some pressure as they sought an equaliser, but Motherwell put the game out of sight following a counter-attack. Van Veen had made the initial break and finished it when he turned home Johnston’s shot.