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STEVE IN MAYDAY WARNING; Clarke will be gone says hero.

Byline: David McCarthy

Motherwell 0 Kilmarnock 1

Stephen O'Donnell has urged Killie supporters to savour their revival under boss Steve Clarke because they might not have him for too long.

The wing-back crashed in a 34th-minute stunner to help his side leapfrog Motherwell into the top six.

Clarke's men have tasted defeat only once in the last 12 matches and O'Donnell - who climbed out his sick bed to play - reckons it's only a matter of time before teams come calling for the manager.

O'Donnell said: "We have to appreciate him while he's here.

"If this run continues there will be teams in the Premier League and Championship looking to get him.

"It wouldn't take much to get him back to England because he already has a reputation down there.

"Scotland appointed Alex McLeish and we're just glad it wasn't the gaffer. At lease we have him until May."

O'Donnell revealed he'd been sick overnight but hard-won points against a Motherwell outfit that battled right to the end was the perfect tonic.

The 25-year-old said: "I sent the physio a text at nine in the morning to say I really didn't think I would make it in.

"Iwenttogetup for my breakfast and I just couldn't get out of bed. I was shivering and feeling unwell.

"We've been on a great run and I wanted to play. The boss told me to leave it as late as possible so I went back to bed and then got up again at quarter past eleven to make it for pre-match.

"It was a close shave and you could see it in my performance. I normally have a lot more energy, especially in my legs."

The action was watched by the Rangers management trio of Graeme Murty, Jimmy Nicholl and Jonatan Johansson among the 5372 crowd and they saw both sides bristling with confidence on the back of terrific runs of form.So it was no surprise that the opening exchanges were packed with goalmouth action at either end.

It took Kris Boyd just two minutes to spin his marker Tom Aldred and curl a fine effort just wide.

Moments later Motherwell's prolific Curtis Main was just crowded out inside the area after Jamie MacDonald had spilled Craig Tanner's corner into his path.

The score remained blank after Tanner shot inches wide and Aldred produced a superb block to deny Eamonn Brophy but it looked like only a matter of time before a breakthrough was made.

g changer It almost happened in the 20th minute and Kirk Broadfoot was lucky when his hurried clearance from Chris Cadden's low cross crashed off his post and behind.

Soon afterwards Nadir Cifti was claiming long and loud for a penalty after Scott Boyd's challenge inside the box but whistler Steven McLean didn't want to know.

The deadlock was broken in 34 minutes and it was an absolute nightmare for Main. The Well striker, who has made such a positive impact since his arrival last month, gifted a crossfield pass straught to O'Donnell, who took a couple of strides into the open space in front of him and drilled a superb 25-yarder low past Trevor Carson's left hand.

The home team started the second half on a retrieval mission and set up camp in the Killie half. But so well drilled were the Ayrshire men they kept their opponents at arm's length fairly easily.

Main was given a glimpse at redemption from his earlier mistake, latching on to a Carson punt in 64 minutes but the striker's venomous drive from the edge of the penalty box fizzed narrowly wide.

The big striker was trying just about every trick ame he knew though and in the 76th minute produced a great piece of skill inside the box before carving a chip just wide.

Motherwell kept pressing and Carl McHugh came close with a near-post flick from a Frear corner but the equaliser wouldn't come.

The Killie bandwagon rolls on and Clarke couldn't be happier.

teams Motherwell The gaffer said: "It was a good result. The team's in a really good moment.

Carson 6, Tait 7, Aldred 6, Dunne 6, Cadden 6, McHugh Rose 6, Frear 7, Tanner 7, Main 7, Ciftci 5. Subs: Bowman 3, Bigirimana 4, Grimshaw 2. Kilmarnock MacDonald 6, O'Donnell 8, Broadfoot 7, S Boyd Findlay 6, McKenzie Mulumbu 8, Taylor Jones 7, Brophy 6, K Boyd 6. Subs: Erwin 3, Wilson 3, Burke 1.

"My players are working for every point they get and we're pleased to get three points here because it's a tough place to come.

"Everyone is feeling good about themselves after today, although Motherwell will feel aggrieved they haven't taken anything from the game.

"But you have to say the character of our players at the moment is unbelievable.

"Everything just seems to be going our way at the moment, so while it continues going like that you just have to ride the crest of the wave and keep picking up the points."

I'll Curt him a bit of slack Stephen Robinson threw an arm round Curtis Main after the striker's blunder led to Motherwell's first defeat of 2018.

Main's wayward pass was seized on by Kilmarnock's Stephen O'Donnell who fired home the only goal of the game - but Fir Park boss Robinson cut the attacker some slack and insisted his team deserved at least a draw.

The boss said: "Curtis made a mistake but he's pulled us out of the fire many times since he's been here so we can forgive him for that.

"He was hoping someone else would pull us out of it this time but they didn't and we didn't manage to score the goals we deserved.

"We had large amounts of possession and we put 30 crosses into the box. We also had four or five opportunities to put someone through in one-v-one situations and chose the wrong option.

"Other than that we were excellent. We rarely felt under any threat.

"We made one mistake and were punished for it because it led to their goal which I believe was their only shot on target."

Robinson is convinced his side will bounce back from the defeat and said: "Everyone is emotional about the result but I'm happy with a lot of what I saw out there.

"Ryan Bowman was effective when he came on and gave us another option up front.

"There were a couple of shouts for penalties - one with Nadir Ciftci and one with Curtis - but they didn't look clear-cut to me."

teams

Motherwell Carson 6, Tait 7, Aldred 6, Dunne 6, Cadden 6, McHugh 6, Rose 6, Frear 7, Tanner 7, Main 7, Ciftci 5. Subs: Bowman 3, Bigirimana 4, Grimshaw 2. Kilmarnock MacDonald 6, O'Donnell 8, Broadfoot 7, S Boyd 7, Findlay 6, McKenzie 6, Mulumbu 8, Taylor 6, Jones 7, Brophy 6, K Boyd 6. Subs: Erwin 3, Wilson 3, Burke 1.

Curtis Main's woeful pass into the path of Stephen O'Donnell led to Killie's goal.

The away side were organised after that and sat in to deny Motherwell.

"Three wins in a week!

Take that."

As Killie continue to Shine the only way is up for defender @GregGregtaylor

CAPTION(S):

BOYD UP Killie players enjoy win

GRIN AND TONIC goal hero O'Donnell celebrates his winning strike
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 18, 2018
Words:1215
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