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Motherwell settled for a point against Kilmarnock with former striker Kevin van Veen failing to come back to haunt his old club. Indeed, it was left to Stewart Kettlewell to insist that Theo Bair can fire Motherwell away from the wrong end of the table.

Lewis Mayo got Killie up and running with a 12th minute opener, an effort that was cancelled out by Bair eight minutes before the break.

Motherwell were the more menacing of the team on the opening exchanges of the second period but could not find a way through a fairly resilient Killie defence.

Kilmarnock stay fourth, but are now 12 points behind Hearts in third and just one point clear of St Mirren.

It had been an enthusiastic start to the game from Motherwell with Blair Spittal aiming a deflected free-kick just past Will Dennis’ post, but Kilmarnock did not take long to burst their bubble.

Mayo netted with a rasping effort from the edge of the box, a raking volley that crept low into bottom of Liam Kelly’s left-hand corner after Danny Armstrong’s cross had been headed to the edge of the box.

Motherwell restored parity after Andy Halliday cleared a Killie cross with a long hoof up the park with Spittal sending an excellent ball for Bair to latch onto and, as he went one-on-one with Dennis, he kept his composure to slot past the Rugby Park goalkeeper for his fifth goal in as many games.

The striker has looked a different player in recent months with Stewart Kettlewell enthused by his contribution which now amounts to seven goals.

Kettlewell had tried to get Van Veen but has insisted that he trusts Bair to stay among the goals.

“Everybody knows the relationship Kevin Van Veen has with this football club,” said the Fir Park manager. “The numbers he posted last season were ridiculous.
“There’s a personal relationship between myself and Kevin which is well documented.
“There’s disappointment, but it shows where things are. That performance there shows I undoubtedly wanted to bring Kevin back to the football club. It’s no secret but we were blown out of the water by Kilmarnock, and St Mirren were involved with that as well I believe.
“That’s not me trying to make anyone feel sorry. That’s just the scenario we faced.
“I know Derek will be really positive and pleased to get Kevin in. But we need to now focus on our group and what we have and that’s not a slight on our guys. Our guy that led the line for us was pretty decent himself. Big Theo is getting better and better and he is my player, Kevin is not. I’ll continue to focus on him.”

Buoyed by the goal, the hosts emerged from the interval keen to sustain the tempo.

Spittal picked Halliday at the back post but the former Rangers and Hearts midfielder’s header was comfortably stopped by Dennis.

Bair was next up as he curled an effort that Dennis again was equal to as Motherwell pressed to get their noses in front.

Van Veen was booed onto the pitch as he was introduced for the final four minutes of regulation time. The former Fir Park striker, who turned down a deadline day return to the club, did not managed to haunt his old colleagues as both teams shared the points.

“I didn’t think we looked like going on and winning the game but I did feel pretty comfortable,” reflected McInnes. “But I did think if anyone was going to win it, it was Motherwell as they played more of the game in our half but a draw was a good result.”

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