Stuart Kettlewell pleased with second-half reaction to beat Livingston



Posted Thursday, February 29, 2024 by PA

Stuart Kettlewell pleased with second-half reaction to beat Livingston

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell was thrilled his players responded to his half-time criticism after watching them come from behind to beat Livingston.

The visitors trailed at the break to Tete Yengi’s third-minute strike but improved in the second 45 minutes after scoring through Sam Nicholson, Blair Spittal and substitute Jack Vale.

The win moves the Steelmen to within three points of the cinch Premiership top six, while Livingston are now seven points adrift at the bottom.

Kettlewell said: “It showed great character coming here. You can see their team was up after the first goal, which was really poor and I was really annoyed at half-time.

“It wasn’t how we passed the ball, it was the fact we all had eyes for the ball. It was a great reaction, the guys got some stick at half-time and the goals were of sheer quality.

“But once we get that organisation behind the ball it worked for us.”

Asked if his team now had their sights on top six, Kettlewell, whose team face Rangers at the weekend, added: “We have to, we won’t get carried away because it’s one victory, one win but we have to set the bar high.

“Simply from my side it’s about the performance, especially the second half. If we can piece together that first half against Celtic then we can put on a real show.

“It needs to be bigger picture. We’ve had so many strong performances since the turn of the year and games we should have won.

“We’ve conceded cheap and soft goals which happened tonight but play like we did in the second half then I think we can compete with most teams.

“That creative flair we have, the ruthless edge to score.

“We’re maybe third or fourth top scorers in the division and that speaks volumes for replacing someone like Kevin van Veen.

“We’ll need that to continue and that can set the bar for where we want to be and where we want to go.”

Livingston made the perfect start but ended the game looking like a team that were heading for relegation.

Manager Davie Martindale admits his side looked vulnerable after Motherwell equalised in the 49th minute through Nicholson.

He said: “Of course it’s confidence. That group at the start went to Easter Road (against Hibs), good value, shape and discipline.

“Now we look a million miles away from that and it’s down to belief.

“First half we gave up a wee bit of territory but that was part of the game plan.

“It probably gave them a wee bit more than I’d hoped. I thought we looked a threat on the counter.

“Shamal George didn’t have a lot to do then we go out and lose an early goal, a cheap goal.

“The game became very difficult for the players, position, form, eats into that.”

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