Caretaker manager Stuart Kettlewell led Motherwell to their first home win in the cinch Premiership for six months as they held on for a 2-1 triumph over St Mirren.
Kevin Van Veen and Max Johnston netted in the first 19 minutes as Motherwell showed a positive reaction following their Scottish Cup exit and the departure of Steven Hammell.
Ryan Strain pulled one back five minutes later but Motherwell showed a resilience that has too often been lacking in recent times as they recorded their first league victory in 12 games.
Motherwell have definitely played better and failed to win this season, but the result was all that mattered following four consecutive defeats and they moved three points above bottom club Dundee United into ninth place.
Kettlewell made four changes from Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Raith Rovers but the biggest difference was a switch in formation to 3-5-2, mirroring St Mirren’s set-up.
Tony Watt made his first start for St Mirren as one of five former Motherwell players in the visiting line-up.
They had more appearances for Motherwell between them, 352, than the entire home team, while manager Stephen Robinson also added to the Fir Park experience.
Kettlewell’s caretaker reign got off to the perfect start in the eighth minute after Blair Spittal’s quick ball sent Van Veen in behind.
The Dutchman looked like he had been forced wide by Richard Taylor but he managed to hold off the defender and steer a shot beyond Trevor Carson with the outside of his boot.
The second goal came after Sean Goss flighted a ball into a similar area. Johnston got in behind Scott Tanser and, from an even tighter angle, lobbed the ball over Carson and just inside the far post.
St Mirren hit back after Curtis Main won an aerial challenge to send Watt down the left. The on-loan Dundee United man’s cutback was mis-kicked by Keanu Baccus but Strain finished at the far post.
The visitors lost Tanser to injury before Strain came close from 22 yards. Carson saved Dan Casey’s header at the other end as the first half continued at a frantic pace.
The second half was a scrappy affair with Motherwell largely unable to keep meaningful possession but holding the visitors at bay.
Strain and Mark O’Hara both tested Liam Kelly but from outside the box and the Motherwell goalkeeper held both efforts.
Substitute Jack Aitchison worked an excellent late chance to give the hosts some breathing space but he shot over from 16 yards.
However, there were no late scares as the home side battled to victory.