Liam Donnelly missed a second-half penalty as Motherwell slumped to defeat with 10 men in their Scottish Premiership opener against Ross County.
Motherwell, third last season, trailed to Ross Stewart’s first-half spot-kick when Donnelly rolled his effort wide.
Christopher Long had almost levelled for the visitors just after they went behind, his shot striking a post.
And Callum Lang was denied by County goalkeeper Ross Laidlaw before the Motherwell substitute was sent off.
Debutant Lang was dismissed for a cynical challenge on Michael Gardyne as the hosts mounted a breakaway with three minutes of normal time left.
County’s goal was reward for their pressure in the opening quarter of the game with Harry Paton and Stewart having tested Trevor Carson before Declan Gallagher was penalised.
The ball fell to Paton, who took a touch before being clattered by the defender, and Gallagher could have little complaint about his booking. Stewart finished high to Carson’s left.
But Long could have equalised moments later, charging through the inside right channel before lifting a shot on to the near post.
Wigan loanee Lang was introduced in place of Mark O’Hara at half-time, then Sherwin Seedorf took over from Jake Hastie and the two substitutes combined when Seedorf’s delivery found Lang cantering towards goal, but Laidlaw was well placed to scoop away the forward’s header.
Lang then had his jersey tugged by Coll Donaldson, causing Nick Walsh to point to the spot a second time, but Donnelly could not hit the target.
Walsh had one more significant call to make when Lang felled Gardyne and the referee had no hesitation in producing a red card.
Man of the match – Ross Stewart
What did we learn?
A tale of two penalties in the end but the lack of efforts from open play is perhaps indicative of how little match practice these sides have had in recent months.
With Stuart Kettlewell now in sole charge of County after Steven Ferguson moved into the chief executive role, consolidation is their mission and Kettlewell opted for attack as the best form of defence with Stewart, Billy McKay and Lee Erwin starting. It worked.
On the plus side for Stephen Robinson’s Well, Carson showed he is still a dependable presence in goal even after a near two-year absence with deep vein thrombosis while David Turnbull got another 83 minutes under his belt after making a first start in 15 months following knee surgery.
What did they say?
Ross County manager Stuart Kettlewell: “The remit was to come away with three points. We always believe in ourselves, especially at home.
“We defended our penalty box reasonably well. We have to trust ourselves a wee bit more in possession. We’ve ridden our luck with the missed penalty. All in all it’s a good night for us.”
Motherwell manager Stephen Robinson: “Ultimately how we started the game cost us. I don’t think it was any decision the referee made. We lost the game in the first 15 minutes, after that we dominated.
“We miss our own penalty, we’ve two great chances that if we score, I believe we go on and win the game. There were a lot of positives for me in terms of applying, creating chances and some good stuff but if you don’t take your chances, you don’t win football matches.”
Ross County are Hamilton Academical’s first visitors of the season on Saturday, when Motherwell play their first home match of the campaign against Premiership newcomers Dundee United.