Theo Bair discovered his form as Motherwell beat Livingston 3-1 to record a first win in 16 cinch Premiership matches.
The forward scored two and set up another for Blair Spital as Motherwell doubled their first-half goal tally for the league season inside 35 minutes.
Scott Pittman had made it 2-1 but Bair’s fourth goal of the season put the game beyond the reach of the bottom side.
Livi continued battling but could not get a lifeline as they drifted seven points behind their rivals at the foot of the table.
The game pitted two teams in desperate need of a turning point in their season against each other.
Since their previous meeting, which Livi won 2-0, David Martindale’s side had only scored two goals and collected two points in 11 games, while Motherwell’s long run without a win was piling pressure on manager Stuart Kettlewell.
Kettlewell made a big call as he handed Oli Shaw his second start since his loan move from Barnsley and recalled Bair in a three-pronged strikeforce with Callum Slattery and Harry Paton dropping to the bench.
Motherwell had only opened the scoring once since their previous win, against Hearts on September 3, but they came close twice inside four minutes. Bair sliced wide off a defender before Shamal George saved well from Mika Biereth from close range following Georgie Gent’s cross.
The game stopped for 60 seconds at the 10-minute mark as applause rang out around Fir Park for former Motherwell skipper Phil O’Donnell, 16 years and a day after he died after collapsing during a game.
Bair saw another effort deflected wide before setting up the opener in the 14th minute.
Joel Nouble dallied in possession just outside his own box and was robbed by Biereth, who played it on to Bair. The former St Johnstone striker looked like he might have passed up the chance but he played the ball in front of Spittal just in time for the midfielder to stab home.
Spittal repaid the service five minutes later when he played Bair in behind from near the touchline and halfway line. The Canada international got there before George to stab home.
Boos rang out from among the 216 away fans after each goal but they were cheering in the 23rd minute when Cristian Montano chipped the ball over the home defence and Pittman volleyed into the top corner.
The home side restored their two-goal lead in the 35th minute. Bair was already shouting for a pass down the line when Biereth intercepted a Livingston pass and the Dane delivered.
Bair cut inside Mikey Devlin and waited for George to go down before dinking the ball over the goalkeeper and sparking gasps of astonishment from the crowd.
Bair almost had his hat-trick when Shane Blaney’s header bounced off him and went in but it was disallowed for offside.
The Irish defender pulled up with a hamstring problem in the closing seconds of the half and was replaced by Bevis Mugabi, who was busy with the rest of the Motherwell defence for much of the second period.
Livingston’s best chances fell to defenders though and Devlin and Ayo Obileye were off target following set-pieces to leave the visitors in deep relegation trouble, although they have three home league games in succession to follow against Hearts, Dundee and Ross County.